Two weeks ago, we went on our annual family weekend trip to the region of Entlebuch, Switzerland. The first objective of this trip is of course to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday and the second objective is always to “hunt” for porcinis or Steinpilze as they call them in German. I use the term “hunt” because this is not an easy task and the weather conditions of the past summer and the current autumn have a huge impact on whether or not you will find these forest gems.
Now, I am by no means a mushroom expert, but my husband and his 3 brothers have been hunting mushrooms for years. With that said, I would strongly encourage those who are interested in finding their own to go with someone well knowledgeable in mushrooms. What I can tell you is that these lovely porcinis or Boltes edulis typically grow in forests above 800 meters above sea level and they love to live in damp soil underneath pine trees. And if you spot those fairy tale looking mushrooms that are bright red with white spots, Fly Agaric or Amanita muscaria, keep your eyes open because porcinis grow in the same environment. But remember, those red mushrooms are extremely poisonous!
When you are a “lucky mushroom” and have the privilege of finding a grade A porcini (fresh, firm, and full of aroma), treat yourself to a Carpaccio of Porcini and use the rest for Bruschetta or a Risotto.
INGREDIENTS (approx. 4 servings)
50 g fresh porcini
1/2 sour apple (i.e. Granny Smith)
50 g Parmigiano Reggiano
extra virgin olive oil (the best that you can find)
fleur de sel
freshly cracked black pepper
- Lightly drizzle the best extra virgin oil you can find on a flat serving plate and sprinkle a pinch of fleur de sel and freshly cracked pepper on top of the oil. This will make sure the bottom layer of the carpaccio is well seasoned.
- Slice the porcini(s) into wafer thin pieces. Try to cut the whole width of the mushroom in order to keep the shape (a Japanese mandoline or truffle shaver comes in handy for this task). Assemble the porcini slices onto the seasoned plate creating an even layer.
- Core and slice 1/2 the apple then cut into quarters. Then slice each quarter into wafer thin pieces. Place these slices on top of the mushrooms creating another even layer.
- Generously shave Parmigiano Reggiano pieces on top of the apple (a vegetable peeler works magic).
- Top the carpaccio off with another drizzle of olive oil and finish with fleur de sel and freshly cracked pepper.