Friday, October 1, 2010


The procini, boletus, or King mushroom is just that. King. Highly regarded by chef's all over the world for their absolute meat-like qualities, and mind boggling aroma and taste they are the most expensive and hardest to find of the fall mushrooms. This was a single porcini that one of my chanterelle foragers found. It is very early for them as they like it to be much cooler, so I wouldn't expect to see many more of them for another few weeks or so. This one had the cap removed, and then both the cap and the stem were cut in half. The discoloration under the cap has to be removed as it has a very bitter flavor, and horrid texture. The jury is out on sizing as well. Some chefs prefer the very small almost button sizes where the cap hasn't had a chance to separate from the stem. Others are fans of bigger the better, as they are much more versatile. The bigger ones can be cut into thick slices and grilled or seared to be able to put a mushroom steak on a plate, that will impress even the most refined palates. The bigger they are the more problems you can have with worms as well. Some chefs go for a quick soak in milk to draw out any bugs lingering, but i like to just keep a really close eye on them while cutting. You can see obvious worm tracks if you take the time to look at what your doing. The bug and any tainted mushroom can be easily removed. I am also seeing an increase of mushroom powders on the market, the leader in this segment being porcini powder. A perfect preservation method, the mushrooms are dried and then ground into a very fine powder. A powder that will pack and amazing punch in a soup, stew, or starch dish. My favorite application is to dredged a piece of fish into the powder and sear it, and then top the fish with a sautee of the same mushroom. It shows off the different texture while retaining the same flavor.

Foragers have to look hard for porcinis as they often pop up over night, and will grow to amazing sizes in just a few hours if the conditions are right. Stories of them moving or disappearing aren't odd. The mushroom in general but especially the procini is a more life like creature than anything other piece of produce. I had an instructor in culinary school who had a game of trying to talk vegetarians out of eating them with his vast and extensive knowledge. He usually succeeded. The way they release spores, grow, breath, and move is a true marvel.

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