Appears in

The River Café Cookbook

By Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers

Published 1995

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Porcini – ‘little pigs’ in Italian – are ceps, or Boletus edulis. The season for fresh mushrooms is very short – September and October – but many are dried, which concentrates the flavour so much that porcini are used almost like a seasoning. When buying dried porcini, look for large and meaty, creamy brown sections; avoid dark brown crumbly pieces. Store them in an airtight container, and never replace them with fresh mushrooms in a recipe.

Dried porcini must be reconstituted before use. Soak them in warm to hot water for 15-20 minutes. Keep the soaking water which will be dark brown and intensely flavoured; pass this through a fine muslin or a filter to get rid of any grit, and add the liquid to the porcini as they cook (depending on the recipe). Rinse the porcini themselves after soaking to get rid of any remaining grit, then pat dry and use as directed in the recipes.