Porcini, Ceps, Penny Buns…. or Boletus Edulis …and the Best Things To Do With Them
“Miranda…. comes forth holding a great steaming basin of wild porcini braised in red wine and tomato. Into small, deep white bowls she spoons the mushrooms with their dark potent juices and directs someone to fetch more bread.”
Marlena de Blasi, The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club
Porcini…. ah porcini! The king of mushrooms!
Whatever you choose to do, never wash porcini, the subject of this post. They will simply go soggy. Someone once gave me a mushroom brush specially for the purpose…. Lord knows where it is now… thankfully a damp cloth will do the trick.
How to cook porcini
Slice the porcini in half, vertically. And then:
- fry in butter and garlic (around fifteen minutes but it all depends on size), deglaze with a bit of dry martini, and serve on toast or with ribbon pasta
- bake, stuffed with breadcrumbs, garlic and parsley
- eat as a raw salad dressed with lemon and smoked salt
- braise in red wine and tomato, as described in the quote at the top of this post
- as they do at the Sonalon in Switzerland, where they are served in a fricassee of big, soft meaty mushrooms, perfectly cooked.
- or you can use dried porcini, and put them in pancakes as in the recipe below.
Recipe for porcini-filled pancakes
You can either buy ready-made pancakes or crêpes or you can make them – they are not difficult.
- 8 savoury pancakes or crêpes
- 30g/1 oz dried porcini mushrooms infused in a little (about ½ cup/120ml) milk for about half an hour – reserve the milk
- 2 banana shallots – chopped small
- 1 drained 400g tin of good quality tomatoes (in a recent taste test Lidl tomatoes came first with a startling nine out of ten; second place was a tie between Waitrose, Tesco and Asda at six out of ten; last with a shameful three out of ten was Sainsburys)
- 100g/3½ oz butter
- about 6 basil leaves, folded over and snipped
- 170ml/¼ pint/½ cup double cream
- 125g/4 oz gorgonzola and mascarpone mixed
- 4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
- few grinds of nutmeg (go here if your nutmeg grinder grates your fingers rather than your nutmeg)
- salt and Indonesian long pepper
- Preheat oven to 180ºC.
- Melt half the butter and fry the shallots in it for a couple of minutes.
- Stir in the mushrooms and a little of the milk, cook for a further ten minutes.
- Add the drained tomatoes, the basil and the seasoning, cook for another minute or two.
- Take off the heat and add the cream and mozzarella.
- Fill the pancakes and roll up.
- Put into a buttered ovenproof dish.
- Dot with small knobs of the remaining butter.
- Sprinkle with the Parmesan.
- Bake for about ten minutes – until golden.
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