Saved by a girl in a gray coat with a tartan procuring trolley. Not that I hadn’t observed the porcini I used to be about to purchase have been a nasty lot. Even my newbie eyes might see that the worm holes have been extra craters than pin pricks, that the half-dozen specimens seemed like they’d been in a scrap. Yet once more although, as can also be my manner in garments retailers and Italian perfumeries, I used to be trapped in a transaction; one way or the other indebted to the person and about to spend the very best a part of 20 euros on some dodgy mushrooms.
The girl’s interception was spectacular. Was I making soup? she requested, placing herself between me and the crate. “If so, a couple of of the coral capped ones and subject mushrooms would do the job – simply enhance them with porcini secchi (dried porcini); even a handful of chestnuts.” At that she put her bag of chestnuts on the high of her trolley and headed to the butcher.
Porcino means one thing paying homage to a pig or piglet, maybe after the bulbous stems, pale with five-o’clock shadow, which is usually nearly as extensive because the chestnut-coloured cap. Their botanical title is Boletus edulis, from the greek bolos, which implies lump (they arrive up like lumps in chestnut, beech and conifer woodlands), and the Latin edulis, edible. Porcini should not simply edible however magnificently edible, each their fleshy cap and their stem creamy and succulent, with an nearly meat-like texture, whereas being resolutely vegetal. At this time of yr, contemporary porcini are the pleasure of tables, shaved skinny and tossed with shards of parmesan, grilled entire, dipped in batter and fried till golden, sautéed with herbs and garlic for grilled bread or tossed with ribbons of pasta.
Porcini are costly to purchase and, as a result of they deteriorate and are prey to bugs, onerous to decide on – particularly when you find yourself confronted with a wily vendor who has little question given his finest to an area restaurant. Thank goodness for the girl in gray and the dried porcini, that are offered in small clear plastic packets on markets and in retailers and supermarkets, often behind the tills together with pine nuts, triple-packs of Ferrero Rocher, batteries and fancy disposable razors.
Porcini dry effectively, retaining a outstanding quantity of flavour. Some folks even counsel their flavour is improved by dehydrating them, their musky perfume concentrated when slices are dried to slim leather-like items. The slices should be soaked again to softness and, as they they do, they produce a broth. Oretta Zanini De Vita calls a handful of soaked porcini mushrooms and a number of the broth a “kitchen workhorse”, giving flavour and substance, a turbo cost for soups, stews or any dish utilizing cultivated mushrooms that wants a serving to hand. Today’s is 1 such recipe, impressed by the Calabrian meals author and instructor Rosetta Constantino. I made it thrice final week and it has immediately joined my small military of regulars and nearly usurped Rowley Leigh’s potato and porcini bake as a favorite use of a small packet of porcini.
The hope for each recipe is that the group of substances will come collectively and end in one thing good to eat. This recipe is simply that, with bells on; 1 through which the substances – simply seven for those who embrace salt – really feel significantly cooperative. It’s the recipe equal of a pleasant dance off the place everybody has a second within the centre of the circle doing their factor, to approving cheers, earlier than everybody joins in for the finale panful.
First soak the dried porcini again to life, and within the course of remodel the water right into a well-flavoured and bosky inventory the color of tea. This inventory is then used to prepare dinner and flavour the potatoes, giving starchy physique to the soup – which you’ll encourage with a couple of mashes. The mushrooms are fried in one other pan in olive oil, together with their kindred spirits garlic and thyme, till darkish and comfortable and producing some reasonably scrumptious juices. To end, you combine the 2 pans collectively, season and let every thing bubble and provides off a scent as inviting as a settee in entrance of a hearth after a woodland stroll. You resolve if you wish to puree some or all the soup, which turns it from brothy brown to raincoat beige. Try to go away a portion for the following day, reheating with a handful of small pasta possibly – it’s even higher.
Mushroom and potato soup
When shopping for dried porcini search for the packet with the most important, palest items. You might after all make this with contemporary porcini, through which case use gentle inventory to simmer the potatoes.
25g dried porcini, soaked then chopped
5 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
A small sprig of thyme
Salt and pepper
1 Put the porcini in bowl, cowl with 500ml heat water and depart to take a seat for 20 minutes, then chop. Peel and cube the potato into 1cm cubes. Wipe the mushrooms clear with a humid fabric and pull the stems from the caps, then chop each stems and caps into (approx) 1cm cube.
2 Lift the soaked porcini from their soaking liquid and put aside. Strain the soaking liquid right into a heavy-based soup pan and add one other 500ml of water, a pinch of salt and the potatoes. Bring to the boil after which scale back to a simmer for 15 minutes or till the potatoes are tender.
3 Meanwhile, in a frying pan over a medium-low warmth, gently fry the garlic within the olive oil till aromatic. Add the mushrooms, thyme and a pinch of salt and fry/sweat till the mushrooms are tender. Add the porcini and prepare dinner for a couple of minutes extra.
4 If you need, use a masher to interrupt up a number of the potatoes within the pan for texture. Add the mushrooms and any juices to the pan, additionally a grind of black pepper, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
5 Check for seasoning. If you need a creamier texture, take away a number of the soup, mix it and return to the pan. Serve, with croutons if you want.
- Rachel Roddy is a meals author primarily based in Rome and gained the Guild of Food Writers meals author and cookery author awards for this column. Her new e-book, Two Kitchens (Headline Home) is out now; @racheleats
Rachel Roddy from theguardian.com