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A Surprising Piglet!

Written By Culinary Pen on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 | 10:59:00 AM

As I've mentioned in a few previous digressions, I love good, earthy mushrooms. At the market on Sunday I was happy to see some fresh chanterelles on the shelves. But what totally blew me away was to see a fat little porcini next to them! Normally the only porcini here in Pennsylvania is dried and reconstituted in water. Flavor-wise, porcini are the best dried mushrooms you can get, in my opinion. Dried morels may edge them out, depending on the recipe, but the dried porcini price tag of $2.99 is easier to swallow than $8.99 for a packet of dried morels.

As far as fresh mushrooms, these porcini were clocking in at $34.99/lb. I got there late Sunday night and all that was left was a few broken stems and one giant, fatty, hog-like porcini. Italian for "piglet" (like porcine), he had a stout little body that ballooned out from a squat cap. At $7, he cost about as much as a strip steak from the butcher's, but I couldn't turn down this rare opportunity. Racing him home, I decided to keep things simple.

Sliced into quarters, the porcini was sauteed in butter, along with a small handful of tiny fresh morels (also at the market [call it gilding the lily...]) and a chopped scallion. When cooking mushrooms, I don't like to move them much, so the edges can become crisp and slightly golden brown. That way you get the tiniest crunch before the soft, meaty center.

Nutty, savory, earthy, and delicious, this delicious porcini was gone far too soon. Carla and I are thinking of placing a wholesale order through D'artagnan for 3 lbs (their set box size) of porcini's while the North American season is still in full swing. Cheaper than buying them at the market, we'd be able to make a gluttonous weekend of it! Granted, three pounds is a good amount of mushrooms to go through, but we'd find a way. Porcini quiche, porcini salad with bitter greens, porcini-stuffed carpet-bagger steak, porcini souffle, porcini over polenta...mmm

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