Boletes: The bacon of the mushroom world

Boletes: The bacon of the mushroom world

In my last blog I recounted how my newfound friend PJ and I went hunting in the Gifford Pinchot Nat'l Forest last weekend, looking for Golden Chanterelles, and wound up instead with bushels of beautiful Boletes.

We harvested two kinds of Boletes (commonly known as Porcini): Admirable Boletes, and Slippery Jacks. But if you found King Boletes you could also prepare them this way.

PJ is a master chef and couldn't wait for me to let him loose in my kitchen to see what he could do with those Boletes (mostly Admirable Boletes, and also some Slippery Jacks).

What he did wasn't a whole lot different than what I would have done with them, but there were some subtle twists which I will share with you here.

Prepared boletes, ready to eat!First we sliced up all our Boletes in roughly quarter- to third-inch slices, after brushing them clean and inspecting for worms, which they are prone too if they are too old or sit too long. The younger, firmer ones with brighter colored pores under the cap seem to be the best.

(Also, I think I mentioned when picking Boletes that there are species out there that are not considered edible. The general rule of thumb I follow here in the Northwest is, if it stains blue when you cut or bruise it, toss it. Also don't use Boletes where the underside is too dark or too reddish in color.)

PJ heated a cast iron skillet, added a few tablespoons of olive oil and a quarter stick of butter and then sizzled a few cloves of finally chopped, fresh garlic in the mixture. He then added the boletes, just a few handfuls at a time.

Boletes are like many other mushrooms: mostly moisture. When they first hit the pan the liquid begins to sizzle out. You want to wait (leaving them undisturbed for a few minutes) until the sizzling simmers down, which means the liquid is never gone.

Then you flip them. The first side should be a crispy brown, but not black. As the second side is cooking, add kosher or gourmet salt (iodine-free) and fresh ground pepper to taste. After the other side of the shrooms is nearly ready, splash in a few tablespoons of a nice port and add a teaspoon of fresh chopped rosemary.

Your final product should be browned and crispy on the outside, and aromatic with the fragrance of the port and the rosemary. It was fabulous!

Boletes on scrambled eggs.Continue throwing in more sliced boletes into the mixture, two handfuls at a time. (You should have enough each time to cover the bottom of the pan, but not stacked on top of each other, as connection with the sizzling oil is what makes this recipe work.) You will occasionally need to add more ingredients, usually the port and sometimes rosemary.

Serve hot as a side dish, or on scrambled eggs with cheese. (Don't do what I did in the photo ... had them with guacamole on eggs ... that created a little too much flavor competition.)

One of my friends, who is not so fanatical about mushrooms as I am, said they looked like fried slugs! But he tried some anyway, and then asked for more!

(See my recipe on AllRecipes.com.)


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