Posted by: lisetta | December 18, 2007

Porcini mushrooms

If you are a mushroom fan yet have not tried porcini mushrooms, get thyself to a store and pick up a pack, pronto.  You won’t be sorry. Promise.

porcini mushroomTaken from Il Fungo di Borgotaro website.

Prized for their intense flavor, some of the best porcini mushrooms are found in the Parma region of Italy. Like the Piemontese nocciolo (hazelnut), the mushrooms from this region are classified as IGP, or Indicazione Geographica Protetta, a protected geographic area. Four varieties of the mushroom are grown here: Boletus edulis, Boletus aereus, Boletus aestivalis e Boletus pinophilus. To see pictures and skim through the Italian, click here.

According to the Fungo di Borgato website, September and October bring thousands of people to these areas in search of the prized porcini. Since the mushrooms are not ‘cultivated’ in the classic sense, but ‘encouraged to grown in specific natural microclimates’, only the most seasoned fungaiolo (mushroom hunter) can predict where they’ll pop up.

Sliced and dried, you can buy them in different grades of quality. I’d recommend picking the best you can afford; you don’t need to add too many to flavor a dish. To use the mushrooms, simply soak them in hot water for 10-15 minutes until they reconstitute. Drain the liquid through a white paper towel to catch the grit, and use the liquid to flavor whatever you’re cooking. Have fun with them … and let me know what you dream up!

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