Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bruschetta With Fresh Porcini Ragout

Yesterday, I took my usual bike-ride to the Valvassori Peroni open-air market. All September, the number of stalls selling the prized porcini mushrooms have been growing and this time almost everybody had some to sell. Many of the veg-mongers were offering two different grades of porcini, at different prices, of course. I stopped at one run by an older gentleman and a younger guy, a place where I had bought a lot of things before. After you've been to a seller a few times they begin to treat you better, chit-chat, etc. I asked the young guy if the difference between the two grades of porcinis was due to a lesser number of little worms in the more expensive one. Since I've bought is produce before, he did not yell at me.

(CAVEAT! It's been a rare experience of mine to chop a porcini and NOT have to pick out any tiny white worms! I have accepted this as a fact of life and it is a testament to their deliciousness that I willingly battle and probably eat worms every time I buy porcinis at the market.)

Rather than yelling at me, he simply lied. The veg-monger assured me that there were no worms in either his cheaper or his more expensive porcinis. Not his, he only sells good produce! Now, I love going to Milan's open-air markets and fresh porcini mushrooms are my #1 favorite thing about Italy, and as Jerry Seinfeld so well put it, "Fruit is a gamble; I know that going in." Same goes for vegetables. So I say this with the best sense of the words: Veg-mongers are liars! They cannot be trusted! The best you can hope for is that they will lie to you with smiles on their faces! Now ok, you still get better fruits and veggies at lower prices at the markets, so it is still well worth the duplicity.
So I chopped up my porcinis (I got the more expensive ones at an admittedly great price, 15 euros per kilo) and picked out all the little worms I could find. Music to pick worms out of mushrooms by: The Pogues' "Worms" from the album "If I Should Fall From Grace With God". Then I followed this Charlie Trotter recipe for Roasted Mushrooms. The result (to the left) is a sort of chopped porcini ragout. It's soft, tender texture goes really well with the solid crunch of my grilled, homemade bread. It's delicious, and you don't even notice the worms!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this post! I can only imagine how good those porcini are indeed if you're willing to pick out the worms!

11:35 PM  
Blogger a.c.t. said...

Looks amazing. I made a bruschetta recipe recently with mushrooms, thyme and mozzarella.

5:34 PM  
Blogger hellomelissa said...

a pocini post on porcini chronicles, how apt! or maybe we should start calling it the little white porcini worm chronicles, hmmmm?

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fascinating - had no idea about the worms. how big are they?

10:14 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Ivonne, Thanks! I don't know if everyone would think it's worth it, but I do.

Hi a.c.t., Sounds great! Did you put them under the broiler to melt everything?

Hi Melissa, Mmmm...the worm chronicles!

Hi Scott, They're about 1mm wide and about 6-7 mm long and actually the head (or tail?) has a spot of black. Hungry?

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahh, the things we do for the foods we love ;) I had a similar experience with my grandfather's home-made grape jelly...

Your porcinis look absolutely delightful, and I can only imagine how beautiful they must taste when that fresh!

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is something I've never had before. It looks good!

4:02 AM  
Blogger Rowena said...

Yikes, porcini and worms...that brings back some "wiggling" memories! We bought an entire flat once and they looked FINE. Wouldn't you know, the next day they were just teeming with the little buggers. Arghghghghhg!

12:23 PM  
Blogger a.c.t. said...

Does broiler mean grill? If so then yes!

7:29 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Ellie, Did your grandfather's grape jelly have worms?

Hi Paz, Thanks!

Hi Rowena, I know! Isn't it hard to tell whether you're going to get something good?

Hi a.c.t., Hmmm... It's hard to say if "grill" for me means the same as "grill" for you! :) The broiler is usually in the oven. You ignite flames at the roof of the oven and put your food on the highest rack so that the top browns but the food is not necessarily cooked through. Is that a grill for you?

10:40 PM  
Blogger Orchidea said...

I love Porcini... one of my favorite food in autumn.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Rowena said...

RYC: I'm getting a real kick out of the choco-garlic reaction but I think after last night I better cool it with the aglio for awhile....I made a sicilian zucchini recipe that required 1 anchovy along with the garlic. Jeez it reeks around here!

12:33 PM  
Blogger a.c.t. said...

Yeah theat sounds similar, except we have 'elements' at the top of the oven which heat up but not flames. I wondered what brolier was - I'm reading 'Kitchen Confidential' at the moment and it's mentioned a lot in there.

12:44 PM  

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