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How-To

Fresh or Dried, Porcini Have a Potent Appeal

Here’s how to get the best from this prized wild mushroom

Fine Cooking Issue 11
Illustration: Dugald Stermer. Photos: Rita Maas, E. Scott Wellsandt & Sloan Howard.
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Take a walk on the wild side, and explore the taste of one wild mushroom, the porcini. Fresh and dried porcini are two different ingredients with different qualities and uses in cooking, as different as grapes and raisins or tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. Fresh porcini have a meaty taste that works well with sautéing and grilling, or in dishes like baked and stuffed caps. Rowley tells you how to select good fresh porcini and how to check for bugs; how soon to eat them; how to clean them; and how porcini differ from cultivated mushrooms. Fresh porcini are in season for a short time, but dried porcini are available all year, and can be used in many ways: in sauces, stews, pasta dishes, and risottos. You can dry your own fresh-picked mushrooms or buy them at the market (a sidebar tells you how to choose the best). Rowley tells you other inventive ways to use dried porcini–as a “liquor,” a kind of spice rub, and a flavored oil. A sidebar covers the pleasures (and cautions) of mushroom foraging. Rosina Tinari Wilson offers wine choices, mostly reds, for each of the recipes. Featured recipes: Sautéed Porcini; Halibut al Tabaccaio; Porcini Oil; and Saffron Risotto with Dried Porcini.

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