Using only a handful of dried porcini mushrooms will make a lovely flavored pasta sauce.
By Tamara Novacoviç
In the vast culinary world of edible mushrooms, only one can be called king. Porcini mushrooms. Because of their flavor and the fact that they are seasonal and not cultivated, but collected in the wild, either fresh or dried porcini are one of the most sought after mushrooms in the world.
Porcini mushrooms have such a beautiful earthy, somewhat nutty flavor reminiscent of forest ground, colorful leaves and damp autumn air. Every season we stroll around the woods looking for these beauties. My dad has a radar for them, I swear it’s almost as if he can smell them miles away. He is a natural talent for detecting porcini mushrooms (smile) and even has a special secret place (well, not so secret any more) up in the woods among pine trees, where a different type of porcini grow, with distinct flavor and darker color.
Porcini mushrooms are somewhat expensive and are most often offered in dried versions. Each time I look at their price I feel so grateful we collect and have our own.Dried porcini have a concentrated flavor and aroma that is excellent in risottos, soups, and sauces. This flavor is just waiting to be released simply by soaking them in water or any other cooking liquid. A strong mushroom aroma should greet you once opening the package, if the mushrooms have no smell, then they have no flavor either and means they are too old. Only a handful of these lovelies will give grace to an elegant stew or sauce, as well as vigorously stand up to something as flavorful as a thick grilled steak.
I got the inspiration for this meal a week or so ago when I tried something similar in a restaurant. My mom used to make similar sauce but with different mushrooms and there really is no mushroom like porcini, so this is for me the best so far. The sauce is versatile, you can use it in a risotto or gnocchi, even with meat.
- 1 handful of dried porcini mushrooms
- olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- ½ tsp dried sage
- ¼ cup (50-60) ml white wine (you can use lemon juice instead)
- ¾ cup (180 ml) heavy cream
- Put porcini mushrooms in a bowl of hot water and let them soak for 1-2 hours. Rinse, but don't discard the liquid.
- Heat some olive oil, add finely chopped onion, butter and finely chopped garlic. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, add finely chopped parsley, sage and some of the soaking liquid. Add white wine and let simmer for about 30 minutes. If needed, add more liquid during that time.
- In the end, stir in heavy cream, let simmer for several minutes and remove from heat. Serve with cooked pasta.
Looking for the perfect mushroom sauce for steaks? Check this lovely recipe out.
Tamara Novakovic is a passionate self-taught cook, food blogger, freelance food writer and photographer behind bite-my-cake.blogspot.com. Her life journey has led her through Faculty of Humanities in Zagreb, Croatia to discovering passion for making cakes. She is currently a weekly food columnist for Croatian newspaper V magazine and food magazine Repete.