Tag Archives: porcini

Rich porcini gravy


This post is dedicated to the beautiful king bolete Boletus edulis. We found a few gorgeous young specimens while crawling through the bramble in the Oregon dunes.


In my previous post about the Queen bolete I mentioned that you can identify boletes beause they have brown bun shaped caps, tubes instead of gills, and fine reticulation on the upper part of their stems. They are super buttery and delicious and add an amazing flavor to any creamy dish.


Below is another recipe courtesy of my mycology buddy Roo! Roo made a delicious vegetarian porcini gravy to serve on top of biscuits and mashed potatoes at a dinner party.


Luckily, the porcinis were amazingly maggot free! They were small but we were lucky and got them nice and young before they had time to attract bugs. Roo chopped them to a nice even dice and set them in a bowl. The first step of the gravy is to chop up an onion and a bunch of garlic.


Then you sauté it in A LOT of butter.


Once the onions and garlic are starting to brown add the mushrooms.


OMG yum this looks so good! I want this in my mouth now!


At this point add a handful of flour.


Stir it up with the flour for a while until the flour finely coats the ingredients.

Then start slowly adding in vegetable stock letting it incorporate little by little as you stir so the gravy does not get clumpy.


Add the broth slowly and keep stirring for a few minutes.


Add broth until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Then let it simmer on the stove for 20-30 minutes to let the flavors develop.


This potluck was amazing and had so many delicious foods! Here is my plate loaded up with goodies with the porcini gravy covering my mashed potatoes! Yum!



  • porcinis – as many as you can find!
  • 1 onion
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • half a stick of butter
  • handful of flour
  • 1 pint vegetable broth

Sauté 1 onion and 5 garlic cloves in half a stick of butter, then add the porcinis and sauté until they released their juices. Then add a handful of flour to make a roux, and brown the flour (add more butter if needed). Then slowly added about a pint of vegetable broth, stirring in each addition thoroughly. Then just let it simmer for ~30 min or so, to let the flavors blend. Thanks to Roo for the recipe and professional photographer Brian Jones for most of the cooking photos!

Oyster mushrooms and porcinis in class

Despite the extensive drought in California, some prized edible mushrooms are sneaking their way into my classroom. As mentioned in a previous post, I’m teaching a class at UC Berkeley this semester called California Mushrooms. Students bring in mushrooms that they find hiking around the local forests or on campus, and we identify them in lab. Imagine my delight when this giant pile of oyster mushrooms walked into my classroom a few weeks ago!


Whenever we get a sizable collection of edible mushrooms in the classroom we cook them so that all of the students can try them. Oyster mushrooms, also known as Pleurotus ostreatusare not necessarily the most prized mushrooms because they are not that scarce. Unlike chanterelles and porcinis, which are ectomycorrhizal fungi and are mutualistically associated with trees, oyster mushrooms are saptrophic fungi that make a living by decaying dead material such as wood. This is an easy environment to reproduce in culture so oyster mushrooms are cultivated and thus readily abundant. You might have seen them in your local grocery store. Or you might be seeing them on downed logs while hiking around in the forest, which is where my student found them in the woods in Marin county. 

We cleaned and sliced up the mushrooms and prepped them on our handy wooden cutting board in lab. As you saw in the chicken of the woods post, we have a set up where we bring in a portable hot plate and cook mushrooms in the fume hood.


We like to cook the mushrooms simply in butter and add salt so the students can taste them in their purest element. I do enjoy oyster mushrooms but I will admit that they are not the most flavorful.  However, oyster mushrooms would add great texture and meaty flavor to a stir fry or an egg dish.

IMG_2484Chicken of the woods, which I wrote about in my last post, has been coming in a lot as well as it is a common parasite of Eucalyptus trees on campus and in Albany and Berkeley. Since they are so tasty and were such a hit in the previous class, we decided to cut those up and cook them as well.


Don’t they add a lovely color? Here are the oyster mushrooms all cooked up. You can see we use pretty fancy flatware in class…


Now of course the students love trying all new mushrooms but I was especially excited when we got our first porcini! Alas it was only a single mushroom that was found by one of the students hiking around in Mendocino, but I had to cut it up for students to try since it is such a prized edible.


Porcinis are ectomycorrhizal fungi, mutualistically associated with trees, so they must be foraged in order to find them because it is a really difficult environment to recreate in culture. Many mushrooms in the genus Boletus are lumped into the edible category of porcinis, but the one that we had in class was the queen bolete Boletus regineus known for the white bloom she has on her cap when young. Mushrooms in the genus Boletus are distinctive for having tubes instead of gills. Remember my post about hedgehog mushrooms where I mentioned that mushrooms in the genus Hydnum have spiny teeth instead of gills? Mushrooms have evolved all sorts of awesome mechanisms for dispersing their spores!


Porcinis are identifiable due to the brown bun shaped caps, the tubes, and the reticulation, or netting, on the top of the stem. Can you see it? As I mentioned previously, porcinis are a rare find and are super delectable so I was very excited to cook it in class.


As usual, we kept it simple cooking it in the frying pan with butter and salt. Porcinis are delicious in egg dishes, gravy, soups, many Italian dishes, and would likely add a rich buttery flavor to any dish. They were super buttery and delicious! Here’s my co-TA Vince enjoying mushrooms in our lab.


Here are the students gathering round to try the mushrooms! Bon apetit!


The Fungi Forager! AKA my video premier!

Has reading my blog inspired an unknown interest in mushroom foraging? Do you yearn to uncover the secrets of the hunt? Well look no further, as some secrets are about to be revealed in my video premier!

A bit of explanation: I’m currently teaching a class to UC Berkeley undergrads called Environmental Issues, and one of the grad students that I teach with is a Journalism student. Courtney has to make news segments for one of her journalism classes, so when she heard about my blog she asked me if she could do a news segment featuring me, and of course, I gladly accepted :) Courtney visited me in my lab and then we foraged for mushrooms on UC Berkeley’s campus, which is where I found the porcinis that I blogged about in a previous post. Courtney is known for her quirky news segments on off the beaten path topics, so of course we were a natural pairing! Courtney had to cut a 3 minute news segment from the 3-4 hours that she spent with me – what she came up with is a pretty hilarious and dramatic rendition of my mushroom foraging adventure.  This is pretty embarrassing but luckily I’m very good at being made fun of (comes with years of practice from growing up as the youngest with 3 older sisters to tease me) so here you go, enjoy my video premier!

Check out the 3 minute news segment on the Fungi Forager:  http://vimeo.com/89270562

Picking porcinis on UC Berkeley's campus

Picking porcinis on UC Berkeley’s campus

Porcini and leek frittata with mozzarella cheese

I went rock climbing for the second time ever last week and I swear I thought my arms were going to fall off as I started cutting into the porcini. I was soo thankful that I had cleaned and cut the leeks the day before.  Leeks are super dirty so you have to be really careful and clean them really well. I ended up plugging my sink and filling it with water and slicing up the leeks and letting them soak in the sink overnight on Sunday night. Then when I woke up Monday morning I drained the sink, put the leeks in a colander and rinsed them off again before sticking them in a tupperware in the fridge so they would be ready later in the week. As I said, my arms hurt so badly from rock climbing so I was really thankful for the foresight!

I was starving after rock climbing for nearly 3 hours and couldn’t wait to get the porcinis in the pan although my arms were stinging while I held the knife. So my cutting of the porcinis was not as precise and beautiful as in the previous post, but unfortunately you will not be able to see the photo-documentation of this as I accidentally left the memory card outside of my camera while I was preparing this meal so all of the pictures that I thought I had taken do not exist! Drat! At least I got a beautiful picture of the finished product :)

Something to keep in mind is that the Boletus barrowsii turns a bit purple after cutting it and it seems a bit alarming when cooking them and they start to turn purple, but I ate them on Sunday night and I’m still alive :)  To speed things up I heated up two pans with olive oil, filled one with leeks and the other with porcinis, and left them to saute for a long time while I worked on writing this. You really want to just leave them alone for a while so they cook enough and get nice and browned. Once the leeks were well cooked, I decided to toss in some fresh thyme that I had sitting in my fridge leftover from one of my recipes from last week. Then I cracked 8 eggs, added salt, pepper, and oregano, and then whisked it really well before pouring the eggs over the leeks. Next, I added the browned porcinis and let it set up in the pan a bit. At that point I realized that I had completely forgotten to preheat the oven so I turned it on and let the eggs sit on the counter while it heated up – it’s just a simple frittata so I figured it should be fine! I also remembered that I had 8 oz of fresh mozzarella in my fridge and I only needed 4 oz for my next recipe so I went ahead and chopped that up and added it to the frittata for good measure. My friend and former California Mushrooms student Claire (featured in this post) came over to enjoy the frittata with me and she loved it!  This turned out to be a super simple and filling meal that worked great as leftovers throughout the week. It also tasted really delicious when accompanied by the sorrel sauce that will be featured in the next post!

Porcini and leek frittata

Porcini and leek frittata

porcini feast!

So yesterday I drove nearly 4 hours and hiked for over 5 hours and while I had tons of fun and saw tons of mushrooms – I found no chanterelles or porcinis.  But today, sticking around campus and barely moving a few hundred feet from my house, I found a whole boat load of porcinis!! Go figure. Mushroom hunting is a fickle beast – but it does make finding the best edibles that much more exciting. And eating mushrooms that you hunted yourself – it just can’t be beat! I’ve been on a quest to find porcinis all year since I’ve never found them before – so today was super exciting :) While it wasn’t the king bolete Boletus edulis, it was still a delicious choice edible in the same group, Boletus barrowsii.  Here’s my nifty and professional looking UC Berkeley Mycology basket filled with them!
Boletus barrowsii

Boletus barrowsii

So beyond finding a delicious choice edible that had been on my mushroom bucket lease, today was also exciting because I was being filmed for a news segment on urban foraging.  I am currently teaching a course at Berkeley called Environmental Issues, and one of the graduate students that I teach with is a journalist, and she decided to do a story featuring yours truly :) So you will get a chance to see my mushroom hunting in action on the news! Keep posted for the video link!

Tons of boletes!

Tons of boletes!

I was so lucky to find so many mushrooms and in such good condition! They were super clean and not buggy at all – this is super lucky as boletes can sometimes be filled with maggots – yuck! So you have to be careful and cut off the bottom of the stem and check for maggots. Mine are super clean – no sign of bugs at all!

super clean boletes

super clean boletes

I cut off the bottom of the stems with all the dirt and threw that in the trash and then I gave them a quick rinse in the sink and rubbed off the dirt, then I let them dry a bit on a towel.

Boletus barrowsii caps

Boletus barrowsii caps

How gorgeous are these mushrooms?

Boletus barrowsii cleaned up

Boletus barrowsii cleaned up

So the trick with porcinis is that you have to slice them up and cook them really well. You want to make sure they are cooked all the way through and nice and browned and crispy. Most people don’t like to eat the tubes so it’s best to pull them off. Luckily they tear off really easily. Slice them up thin, heat up a pan with butter or oil, and let them simmer for a while. Go do something else while they are simmering and stay distracted because they need to stay untouched and cooking for longer than you probably think. Wait til they start to get nice and brown.

sauteeing porcinis

sauteeing porcinis

They are super meaty and flavorful mushrooms. They would work really well in an omelet, in a sandwich with mozzarella and pesto, in a pasta..or as the main event! Get ready for lots of recipes featuring these delicious mushrooms this week :)