Monday, April 9, 2012

This is not your father's campfire food

I could do a whole blog about camping food. I love pushing the boundaries of what can be cooked either over an open fire or on a grill. The list might surprise some who are not campers or grillers by nature. But armed with the right implements and creative ingredients, you'd be amazed at what culinary delights we've come up with in the past. Things like blueberry coffeecake over an open fire in a cast-iron skillet, black-eyed peas with real country ham cooked slow over the campfire, or whole beef brisket with a dry rub cooked all day on a gas grill.

This past weekend marked my first camping trip of the season. I have a little pop-up camper and one of my sisters has a big fifth wheel. I met her down at the campground where she keeps her rig seasonally.

Yep, it's a little earlier than usual, but because of the mild winter, every thing's a little early this season. The small teacup tulips are already spent, the hybrid tulips are on their way out, as are the daffodils already.

And morel mushroom season in Ohio is already underway! Hunting for morel mushrooms on the floor of a deciduous forest is not for the faint of heart. It's tough to spot these little morsels even if you know what you're looking for. You have to have the climate conditions figured out just right so you know when to start looking and understand exactly where these woodsy little delicacies might pop up.

I have not participated in a morel mushroom forage yet, but this weekend, I reaped the benefits of it nonetheless. Our camp neighbor, Mark, had already been out gathering a bunch of them, and he offered to make his infamous morel mushroom and chicken white pizza for us on Saturday night.

When it came time to cook the pizza, Mark fired up the grill and used a gas grill-safe large griddle to make the pizza on.

This is Mark's simple but unbelievably delicious recipe. Don't be fooled by the simple list of ingredients. Those little morel mushrooms make this the most incredible tasting pizza ever.

Morel Mushroom and Chicken Pizza
Pillsbury pop 'n fresh pizza dough
Cooked chicken
fresh baby spinach leaves
shredded mozzarella cheese
Creamy garlic ranch dressing
Morel mushrooms

First, my sister and her mate grilled up a bunch of chicken legs and deboned them.

Then Mark put a small pot of salted water on to boil, dumped the morel mushrooms in it and cooked them for about 5 minutes. You have to cook the mushrooms before putting them on the pizza because the pizza will not be on the heat long enough to cook them. And the morel mushrooms need to be cooked before you can eat them. They are not like button mushrooms. You can not eat them raw (not something I knew before).

Since most of the ingredients were cooked before assembling the pizza, Mark rolled the Pillsbury pizza dough out onto the hot griddle and partially cook it before adding ingredients.

Then he spread some of the garlic ranch dressing over the pizza dough (not too much though) and added the shredded chicken, spinach leaves, morels and cheese and put that sucka' back onto the gas grill just long enough to melt all the cheese and finish cooking the dough.

What followed when he took it off the griddle and we cut it up were moans and groans of culinary ecstasy. Unlike a store-bought button mushroom, portabello mushroom, or even re-constituted shitake mushroom, these little morel mushrooms pack enormous woodsy yet delicate flavor. Without them, it would have been a pretty ordinary white chicken pizza. With them, it was an unbelievably delectable gourmet pizza. The first pizza disappeared in about ten minutes, all while people were exclaiming how it was the best pizza they'd ever tasted.

Thankfully, he made a second one.

I'm linking this to some incredible blogs:


  1. Yummy! I'd take this camping any day. Thanks so much for sharing at Mix it up Monday :)

    1. Thanks, Lisa! Always happy to be a part of your party!

  2. Oh yum - that pizza looks delicious! great camping recipe!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

    1. Thanks for visiting, Jill! You have a great week too!

  3. yum that looks amazing!

  4. Oh this sounds soooo good! Definitely have to try this recipe. Can these mushrooms be bought in the store? Also, thanks for linking up to Frugal Treasures Tuesday.

    1. My understanding about the morel mushrooms is that there is no domesticated version of these little morsels. Their growing environment can not be manufactured. They exist only in the wild and, thus, are harvested by dedicated foodies throughout the Midwest. At least that's what my limited research has shown me so far. Thanks for visiting!

  5. Awwww, had a feeling that would probably be the case. Do you have any suggestions for an alternative mushroom? I'm going to have to research this one. You make it sound soooo good! Thanks so much for sharing. : )

    1. Hi Barbe! Here's a link to a thread where someone was asking a question, what can I use instead of Morel Mushrooms?
      Maybe this will help. Some don't think there's a substitute, but one person gave some alternatives, like chanterelle mushrooms. Good luck!