Monday, April 12, 2010

Porcini Sauce

Gosh I am slacking in tracking my modest life. I must confess that when my day is spent writing or editing, all I want to do in the evening is to flop in front of a DVD (and hopefully I'll flop on something soft like my bed, and not the floor). So that's my excuse today. Indeed it ain't an excuse at all but I hope that a little recipe will redeem me.

I've recently acquired a very generous stash of dried porcini (mushrooms) and I put that between brackets because porcini are mushrooms and that's it, there are no porcini apples or porcini pears and so it goes without saying that they are, indeed, mushrooms. Sorry, I digress all the time. So this stack of dried porcini makes one heck of a fabulous sauce which you can use for pasta or for polenta or even if you fancy a teaspoon on a chargrilled piece of toast (as I like mine... very, very toasted...!).

Today I am going to give you the recipe which is extremely easy in its execution provided you hover by the pan for two hours. Yes, that's right. Don't put this sauce on and go soak in the tub because you'll return to a pan which will require a pick to clean up. I put my phone on 10-minute alarm intervals and returned to check and add a little bit of water as the porcini were simmering. This is the method you should use and one that will guarantee a sauce with a delicate, subtle taste and a pan that you can wash off straight afterwards. And also, don't be fooled by the look of the porcini: they really are going to be ready after two hours and not before.

You'll need:

60g dried porcini
a fistful of flat-leafed parsley
a tiny garlic clove
a glug of olive oil
sea salt

You'll do it like so:

1- Weight your porcini and then put them to soak in tepid water for 10 minutes. During this time they will swell and will begin to look like slugs. Don't be put off (although I know you won't if you're French)! Keep calm and carry on! As soon as the 10 minutes have elapsed, rinse the porcini really, really well. This is vital because they can taste sandy if you don't wash and rinse well. Squeeze the extra water through a sieve, then plonk your porcini, the garlic clove and the parsley on a chopping board.

2- Grab your mezzaluna and attack the mushrooms and the parsley until you are left with very small pieces of the former and the latter has pretty much disintegrated under your weapon (NB: wonder why my mushrooms above look whole? Because I always leave a few).

3- Now coat lightly a small frying pan with oil, warm it up, add the mushrooms and swish around the pan for a little while, until the heady aroma of parsley (lovely) and garlic (yuk) hits you. Lower the heat to medium-low, add some hot water and a little bit of sea salt and be vigilant as I described above. The sauce must simmer gently for a couple of hours, during which you will check for salt. After the time is up, use it straight away or decant it in whatever container to be stored in the fridge for use within a week.
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