Porcini Mushroom Risotto
Combine earthy porcini mushrooms and Arborio rice with some sage and a splash of wine to create the perfect risotto full of rich, nutty flavor. Stir in parmesan and some freshly ground pepper to finish this super creamy rice dish.
Porcini / King Bolete (Boletus edulis)
In the Czech Republic (and the rest of Europe), king boletes grow from July until October. You can find them in both deciduous and conifer forests, often a couple of days after a good summer rain.
Porcini, also known as king boletes, are one of the most sought-after mushrooms worldwide. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, it is the most popular mushroom, well-known by professional and amateur foragers alike. King boletes have a white club-shaped or barrel-shaped stem that is covered in a netlike pattern called reticulation. The smooth cap starts as white or very light brown, turning deep brown as it gets exposed to light. The underside of the cap has pore tubes that are white, turning yellowish and then olive yellow/green as the mushroom matures. Once it reaches the olive shades, it is usually too old to eat fresh, but if the mushroom is not infested with maggots (which is very likely though), you can still dry it. The flesh is white.
Widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere, Boletus edulis is native to Europe and whether the same species grows in North America is still up for debate. I haven't found it in Pennsylvania yet. There is a western North American species Boletus edulis var. grandedulis that was described in 2007. King boletes are ectomycorrhizal species that forms associations with living trees by enveloping the tree's underground roots with sheaths of fungal tissue, most notably beech and oaks as well as pines and spruces.
Taste & Edibility
Porcini mushrooms are edible. They are heavily featured in French and Italian cuisine and are sought after many chefs for their texture and deep flavor. They can either be used fresh—you can sauté, stew, grill, or fry them—or more often, dried. I dry mine in the summer to use in soups or sauces in the winter. I also like to throw a couple of dried ones in when I'm roasting some chicken thighs—it creates the most delicious sauce for rice. Drying deepens their flavor and they reconstitute well in hot water after about 20 minutes of soaking.
The mushroom is low in fat and digestible carbohydrates, and high in protein, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.
Porcini Mushroom Risotto
You've probably heard that preparing this authentic Northern Italian rice dish requires a notoriously tedious preparation—you've got to toast the rice and then stir it gently and constantly, adding hot broth to the rice one cup at a time, waiting until it's absorbed before you add the next. Well, that's not entirely true. I am all about quick and easy cooking, so I did some research and it turns out you can add the stock all at the same time and still end up with a saucy risotto!
In this recipe, combine earthy porcini mushrooms and Arborio rice with some sage and a splash of wine to create the perfect risotto full of rich, nutty flavor. Stir in parmesan and some freshly ground pepper to finish this super creamy rice dish.
Please be extremely careful cooking and eating foraged mushrooms. Never eat a mushroom that you are not 100% sure of its ID. The best way to learn how to identify and forage for edible mushrooms in your area is to join a local mushroom club or go with a trusted mushroom identifier or a mycologist. Then, even if you are 100% sure of its ID and know it's an edible mushroom, always try small quantities of a new mushroom first before eating a large batch to make sure it sits with you well.
When using fresh mushrooms, make sure you clean them well—don't soak king boletes in water. The best way to clean them is to scrape off any dirt with a knife and then wipe them with a wet cloth or paper towel.
- 4 cups mushroom broth (or chicken or vegetable)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 450g porcini mushrooms (roughly chopped)
- 2 garlic cloves (pressed)
- 2 tsp sage (chopped)
- 1.5 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry wine
- 1 tbsp black trumpet powder (optional)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
When cutting the porcini, make larger chunks (about 1 in) so you can enjoy them in the risotto. If you cut them too small, they will reduce to paste when sautéing.
Once the mushrooms are soft, add the rice and toast the grains for a bit to develop nutty flavor. Then add broth—there's no need to add it cup by cup as it makes no difference in the creaminess of the risotto!
- Heat oil in a wide heavy pan that has a lid over medium heat. Add onions or shallots and cook until just tender and the edges begin to brown, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add porcini mushrooms. Cook, stirring until they begin to sweat, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sage. Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Season porcini mushrooms with salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook until they are soft.
- Stir in the rice and cook for 2 minutes until the grains are glistening. Add 1/2 cup wine, stir and cook until evaporated. Add black trumpet powder if using and stir.
- Add 4 cups of broth, stir, and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 12-15 minutes, occasionally stirring to ensure even cooking, until the rice is tender.
- Remove from heat and stir in parmesan and some pepper. Taste, season with salt if needed, and serve.
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