TJF Originals, Entrees

Acorn Sliders: A Delicious, Hearty Burger Alternative

              Hearty Acorn Sliders have a smoky, meaty flavor

              Hearty Acorn Sliders have a smoky, meaty flavor

Acorns are probably my favorite foraged food now that I know how to make them tasty. They are nutritious and filling. As an urban/suburban forager, I have a freezer instead of a wood stove, which works best for storing the white oak acorn species I typically gather. When I am ready for acorn burgers, I take out the amount of acorns I need for each recipe. Every once in a while, I have a few days to spend in the kitchen. I will prepare more acorns than I needs and put the prepared acorn in freezer bags to use as needed. Acorns stored in their shell in the freezer have lasted three years or more in my deep freeze. If I make a large amount of chopped acorns to freeze for later use, I try to use that within a year.

Acorns are the original slow food. Acorns in the white oak family will release their tannins more quickly than red oak acorns. In an ideal world, I'd live near a fast moving stream and let Nature do the work. But even in the 21st Century, acorn preparation can be timed to your daily schedule. Once you defrost and remove the shells from the acorns, chop them in your food processor, or if you're stubborn like me, chop them by hand. I fill a five gallon pot with water and bring it to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and add acorns that have been shelled and chopped. This is the slow food part. Let the acorns soak for six or more hours. Go to work or whatever you have to do. When you come home, drain the water. I save a bit of the water to use on my skin to soothe insect bites or sunburn. Discard the rest. Fill the five gallon pot with fresh water, bring it to a boil. Remove from the heat. This part is critical. If you boil the acorns in the water, they will be mushy. Let the acorns soak. Do this again before your go to bed. In the morning, taste one or two acorn pieces. If your mouth goes dry, start with a clean pot of water and repeat the process. The acorns will taste mild, maybe even sweet when the tannins are completely removed. Once the acorns are ready, you can put them back in the food processor for a finer texture.

2-3 Days Before:
Prepare acorns, remove shells, chop acorn nut meats, soak rinse 3-4 times
Prepare wild garlic, clean, separate bulbs from greens
1 Hour Before:
Chop onion and garlic
Mix ingredients and form acorn slider patties
30 Minutes Before:
Preheat oven - line a cookie sheet with foil
Heat oil - crisp acorn sliders on both sides, remove from oil, drain
Place sliders on cookie sheet
10 Minutes Before:
Place cookie sheet in oven for 10 minutes

Shopping List
Foraged Items:
5 cups prepared Acorns
1-2 bunches Wild garlic
1 onion medium size
1-2 cloves cultivated garlic
Pantry Items:
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp sea salt
1 cup quick oats or old fashioned oats
1/2 cup cooking oil

Entrees, Recipe Revamps

Baked Pasta with Morels: A Great Variation On Mac + Cheese

                                                 Morels and angel hair pasta make a great variation on the mac and cheese theme

                                                 Morels and angel hair pasta make a great variation on the mac and cheese theme

Winter 2011 was the  last time winter had such a fierce grip. That following spring I found more wild morel mushrooms than I ever have before or since. I never understood why people get so passionate about morels. When harvested and eaten fresh, morels are pleasant enough. But morels that have been dehydrated and then rehydrated have a rich, intense flavor that awakens every sensory experience. Now I understand why some mushroom lovers find eating morels more satisfying than sex.

Dried  morels can be stored for years in air tight containers out of direct light.

Dried  morels can be stored for years in air tight containers out of direct light.

Dried morels can be stored for years if you keep them in an air tight container and  in a dark place, like the back of your pantry shelf.

This recipe has few ingredients because I like to let the morel be the star of the dish. You can certainly add any vegetables, spices or other ingredients that you want.    

1 cup dehydrated morel mushrooms
liquid to cover morels, cream, broth, or water
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped garlic
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup hard cheese, like cheddar, shredded
8 oz angel hair pasta
Cooking oil, butter, or a combination 
2 Hours Before:
Soak morels in the liquid of your choice
30 Minutes Before:
Chop onions and garlic
Shred cheese 
20 Minutes Before
Sauté onions, then sauté garlic
Remove morels from liquid, drain, but save liquid 
Put pasta water on to boil
10 Minutes Before
Chop morels
Beat eggs with saved liquid 
Add morels, eggs and liquid to onions and garlic, stir thoroughly over low heat
5 Minutes Before
Drain pasta and add to the other ingredients, stir thoroughly over low heat
Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top, cover, turn off heat, let cheese melt

Shopping List
Dried morels if you do not have them
Angel hair pasta 
Hard cheese, like cheddar 
Cream or broth  

Cooling oil and/or butter 
Skillet, preferably cast iron 
Large pot for boiling pasta 
Cheese grater