Porcini mushrooms are a popular ingredient in both French and Italian cuisine. Gourmet chefs love these popular mushrooms which can be sautéed and consumed as a side dish or added to pasta. Many chefs use dried mushrooms to add flavor to broths and stews. Porcini is abundant in protein which makes them a good addition to a vegetarian diet. Also, it is high in vitamin B3, B5, and folate. They supply essential minerals including copper and zinc.
Porcini mushrooms have caps that can range in size from one inch to almost one foot. Due to their status in fine cuisine, the difficulty of cultivating them, and their short season, they can be expensive. These mushrooms are known to be nutty and earthy with meatiness in flavor and texture.
Cooking with Porcini
Porcini must not be soaked in water or rinsed. To wipe off any dirt of each mushroom, you can use a dry or slightly damp paper towel before using it. Excess water will cause them to deteriorate before cooking.
Dried porcini can be prepared by steeping them in enough warm water to cover for 20-30 minutes or until they have softened and expanded. After draining the mushroom, the liquid should be reserved for use as broth in a risotto or soup. Fresh mushrooms have a tender, meaty texture when cooked. Their dried counterparts can add deep mushroom flavor to broths or sauces.
Where to Purchase
Fresh porcini appears for a short one or two months in autumn and sometimes in the late spring. Sometimes, they can be available by the ounce or small container in specialty markets and farmers’ markets while in season. But, people can buy porcini at any time of the year from Italian and specialty markets or online. Quality porcini is firm with flawless white stalks and brown caps. It is nearly too ripe when its cap’s undersides have a yellowish-brown tinge to them. Those who want to purchase dried porcini should avoid packages with many small crumbs. They might be old and lacking in flavor. Also, their mushroom aroma might already be heady.
Storing the Mushrooms
Fresh, unwashed porcini should be stored in a loose paper bag in the crisper part of the refrigerator. Although they stay fresh for a few days, they are best when used immediately. Dried porcini must be kept in an airtight container in a dark, cool place for up to 6 months.