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    Porcini Mushrooms

    Fri May 03, 2013 2:55 pm
    Forum Host

    Porcini mushrooms are a famous, and delicious, addition in Italian cuisine. Due to their strong nutty flavor, this is an incredibly popular gourmet mushroom.

    Like so many other good edible mushrooms, porcini are mycorrhizal. This means that the underground vegetative growth of the mushroom, called the mycelia, enters into a symbiotic relationship with the roots of plants.

    Why would you care as a chef? It means that because of this complex relationship that occurs in nature, porcini aren't easily cultivated. So depending on where you live they could be hard to find fresh and more expensive to purchase.

    Basic Facts

    •The name porcini means "piglets" in Italian. They're also known as the king bolete, cèpe (in French), Steinpilz (the "stone mushroom" in German), and a host of other fun names from all over the world. The Latin name is Boletus edulis.
    •The term "porcini mushroom" actually refers to a few different species. The most sought after is Boletus edulis, or the king bolete. This is the mushroom people refer to when they say porcini.
    •Porcini mushrooms may grow a rather large cap, up to 12 inches in diameter. It's usually brown or reddish-brown with a slightly sticky texture.
    •The underside of the cap is made up of a spongy material. Look closely; you'll see the tiny tubes from which spores are released. Species of the bolete genus have tubes instead of gills for spore dispersal. The spore print is a dark green-brown.
    •Porcini are known for their thick stem. The picture on the right is a good representation of an average fat porcini stem.
    •They form a mycorrhizal relationship with pine trees. Mycorrhizal fungi form beneficial, symbiotic relationships with the roots of plants. The plant gets better access to water and nutrients through the larger surface area of the fungal mycelia, and the fungus gets access to sugars that the plant produces.
    •You can find porcini mushrooms on the ground in hardwood forests near pine, chestnut, hemlock, and spruce. They fruit in the summer to fall.
    •They're most famously found in Italy but they're also in Europe, North America, and other parts of the world like New Zealand and South Africa.
    •These are dense mushroom are not hollow. They can weigh up to a few founds (2.2 lbs = 1 kg) when mature.

    Porcini mushrooms are gourmet edibles, and their retail price reflects that. Their hearty, nutty taste is a welcome addition to many dishes.

    Not only do they taste good but also they're good for you. This mushroom reportedly has a high protein content, which makes them a great meat substitute in vegetarian dishes.

    Being mycorrhizal, they're not mass cultivated and not as common as the standard white button mushroom. You're more likely to see dried porcini at the grocery store than fresh.

    Dried porcini mushrooms are still very good and add a strong flavor to pasta, soups, and sauces. Try to purchase whole dried mushrooms with a strong smell. Avoid packages made up of too much dust or crumbled pieces, as the flavor is not likely to be very strong.

    Fresh porcini are more common for sale in Europe than in the United States. When buying fresh, make sure you purchase only young mushrooms. A cap that is dark, soft, or covered with black spots is too mature for eating. Make sure you check the underside of the cap too.

    A final thought to keep in mind when buying porcini mushrooms is that worms like them just as much as humans do. Examine the stalk for small holes. If you find them, stand the mushroom up on its cap and they'll eat their way out of the stem.

    You may still have to pick out some small worms after chopping. They are harmless and quite common, so if you do accidentally eat a few you'll be fine!

    Porcini Preparation

    Now that you've acquired the king bolete it's time to add the hearty flavor to a meal.

    For dried porcini mushrooms, steep them in enough boiling water to cover for 15 - 20 minutes. If your recipe calls for water or other liquids use the mushroom water after draining. This adds an even stronger flavor.

    After draining, chop them and add to a recipe as you would any fresh mushroom.

    If starting with fresh porcini, make sure to brush them off with a damp cloth after checking for worms. Don't wash them with water unless you will be using them right away. It doesn't take long for a wet mushroom to become too soft or mushy.

    After your mushrooms are cleaned and inspected, simply chop and use in your favorite Italian recipe! A famous way to prepare porcini is grilled or stewed with some thyme or nipitella. However, you can use this versatile gourmet mushroom in a variety of ways:
    •In almost any sauce

    •In soups or stews

    •Fried with or without a flour coating for an appetizer
    •As a topping for chicken, steak, or fish

    •In any pasta recipe (especially risotto!)

    •If the caps are big enough, grill the caps as you would a piece of meat
    •Canned in olive oil and then grilled or fried. This also enhances the flavor of the olive oil for use in other dishes.

    •Minced and cooked to a paste to serve on bread or with bruschetta
    •As a delicious topping for pizza
    Information from

    Here are some recipes:
    Beef Stroganoff With Cremini & Porcini Mushrooms
    Zuppa Di Porcini (Porcini Mushrooms Soup)
    Pasta With Porcini Mushroom Sauce
    Potato Gratin With Porcini Mushrooms and Mascarpone Cheese
    Chicken Breasts With Porcini Mushrooms

    Risotto With Porcini Mushrooms and Mascarpone
    Tortellini With Porcini Mushroom Sauce
    Mushroom Risotto With Dried Porcini and Shiitake Mushrooms
    Potato Gratin With Porcini Mushrooms and Mascarpone Cheese
    3 Onion, Mushroom and Garlic Soup

    So, have you cooked with porcini mushrooms? Do you love them? Let's see some favorite recipes!
    Fri May 03, 2013 9:04 pm
    Forum Host
    I have never had them fresh but recently found them frozen at the Mexican market, of all places. Imported from Lithuania, which worships porcini - we call them "baravykai". As a child, I remember singing a nursery rhyme about baravykai. I've otherwise had them only dried, even in Lithuania as I've never been there at the right time of year to have fresh. Everyone carries around plastic bags and you'll see cars pulled over by forest preserves and folks in business suits and school uniforms foraging.

    I use dried porcini in this recipe, where I think they add an enormous amount of flavor, Zrazai (Lithuanian Beef Rolls)

    And I've not made these, but I have read a number of times that ground porcini add a lot of meatiness to vegetarian dishes, Veggie Burgers With Pomegranate Ketchup
    Tue May 07, 2013 9:49 am
    Forum Host
    I have had fresh porcini mushrooms once, when visiting my niece who lives in Canelli Italy with her husband, his mother went off into the woods and gathered an apron full of them and sat watching us playing boulles while she prepared them, they were thick sliced and done in breadcrumbs and literally out of this world!

    Its a great memory of something totally delicious
    Tue May 14, 2013 9:00 am
    Forum Host
    Hi Joy and duonyte! I've never had fresh porcini, but can only imagine how good they are. I love the flavor of dried ones(reconstituted of course)! Here are a few recipes:

    Penne Al Funghi Porcini (Pierce Brosnan's Fave)
    Porcini, Caramelized Onion and Sage Risotto
    Portobello Porcini Cacciatore(Vegetarian)


    Last edited by Sharon123 on Mon May 27, 2013 9:04 pm, edited 2 times in total
    Wed May 15, 2013 2:50 am
    Forum Host
    They look great and can't wait to try them either, thanks Sharon
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