Porcini, ceps, cèpes

…make a beautiful dish when treated with respect and care. Be humble! These mushrooms are a precious gift, they need your full attention. In your cookbooks you’ll find many highly contradictory recommendations on how to cook them. I’d say, frankly, that most recipes have got it wrong. To me, there’s only one question when it comes to preparing porcini: will I use thyme or origan?

Keep it simple and be humble: fresh porcini mushrooms.

The other ingredients I use are thus: excellent olive oil, lemon juice, thyme/origan, sea salt, pepper. That’s all you really need. Don’t use cream, these mushrooms don’t need that kind of taste turbo. Don’t mix them with onions or shallots or other vegetables – they feel best when alone. How to do it then?

Oil, lemon juice, herbs: porcini don't need much company.

Well, first thing is: clean the mushrooms, that’s not a nice, yet necessary task. Cut away what you don’t like, wash the hats carefully without soaking them, grate the stem until white and clean. Cut the mushrooms lengthwise into slices of 1 to 2 centimetres (1 inch). Heat the oil in a good, fat-bottomed casserole. Add the porcini and stir delicately. Don’t brown them. After two minutes, maybe three, lower the heat and add the lemon juice. Keep on stirring. Add thyme or origan. Bring on a plate. Pepper. Sprinkle with finest sea salt (fleur de sel, if possible). Add some more olive oil to season. Serve.

In the end they're fast food: porcini.

Now you may say: hey, that’s not a French way to do it, that’s Italian! And you know what? You’re absolutely right. Only the Italians know how to treat porcini properly. And still…there’s a French twist to this post: I haven’t bought or harvested these mushrooms myself. They were offered to me by Virginie and Olivier, who brought them to my house as a gift instead of flowers. And that’s quite elegant and, well, French, don’t you think?

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