The forager’s harvest, Part II — porcini

RECIPES:   PORCINI, GARLIC & PARSLEY CREAMY LINGUINI   |   PORCINI & WALNUT TURNOVERS   |   PORCINI PRESERVED IN OLIVE OIL, HERBS, GARLIC & HAZELNUTS

A few days after our chanterelle outing, Adélaïde and I came back to that spot armed with a handy mushroom guide, a pocketbook filled with information on identifying mushrooms, from the gourmet to the lethal. To our delight we found Bordeaux ceps — also known as porcini, one of the most sought-out mushrooms at this time of the year.

Porcini mushrooms jars | Infinite belly

Porcini mushroom creamy linguini | Infinite belly

Walking around the forest, we traversed a variety of micro-climates, ranging from drier areas with tall trees, pine cones and brown leaves, to luscious mossy patches covering the ground like a soft vegetal carpet. We moved towards a clearing after spotting a few red dots in the distance, a cluster of fly agaric mushrooms. Porcini tend to sprout close to them, according to Simon, a friend who runs a restaurant nearby.

Adelaide among ferns | Infinite belly

Poisonous fly agaric mushroom | Infinite belly

Poisonous fly agaric mushroom | Infinite belly

Those really are the fairy tale poisonous mushrooms. But they offer great clues as to where the porcini may be hiding. Our strategy now consists of roaming the forest looking for these red colonies, which is not too difficult given their bright color, and then combing that area in search of the tricky porcini. As we approached the clearing, scanning the earth, inch by inch, gunshots thudded in the distance, followed by barking. It’s hunting season as well, and while we stay far from them, I always wear a red beanie and other bright clothes to avoid getting shot while innocently picking mushrooms — I’ll admit this is more of a dark fantasy of mine (that always makes Adélaïde laugh) rather than an actual risk.

Porcini mushroom preserved in olive oil jars | Infinite belly

The cèpes de Bordeaux (ceps or penny buns in English, porcini in Italian) are really some of the tastiest mushrooms out there, with a robust consistency that also makes them an excellent meat substitute. They are characterized by their oversized white stalk that needs to be carefully dug out of the earth in order to be kept whole. Although they can be quite large, they are difficult to find since their brown caps are often burrowed under fallen branches and sticks or deep under the moss. Flipping through our little guide’s pages, we stumbled upon their evil cousins: the bolet de Satan, also known as cèpe du diable or bolet diabolique. No translation needed.

Porcini mushroom foraging | Infinite belly

Once a porcini is spotted, I get a particular pleasure in picking it out; it’s like being on some kind of hunter-gatherer forest treasure hunt, or like being Mario after finding the right green tube that gives the mushroom and a little victory song plays in my head as I pluck it from the ground. Although I can’t say we are experts, our method has worked pretty well so far and we come home each time with little families of porcini in our basket.

Foraged porcini mushrooms | Infinite belly

Frozen yellow ferns | Infinite belly

As we headed back to the car, I froze when I saw a couple of figures in the distance gliding through the woods. I started looking for signs as to what their forest activity might be, only to be relieved when seeing straw baskets, batons, and noses pointed to the ground. It turned out to be a retired couple, Jacques and Louise, who live in Lyon but come here every year to pick mushrooms and enjoy the outdoors. Louise told us that her family actually comes from a nearby village, Lapte. It’s a sleepy town with winding roads that climb a hill, covered in stone houses, alleyways, and steep steps. A church sits at the center of the village, overlooking the pastures and volcanoes all around. It turns out Louise’s great-great-grandfather built the church’s bell tower! After comparing our baskets, we parted, and Jacques told us they were happy to have met des gens du coin. And how nice that was, to be called “locals”.

Porcini mushroom turnovers, hand pies | Infinite belly

Spider web in the forest | Infinite belly

Foraged porcini mushrooms | Infinite belly

Soon we had more porcini than we could consume, so we decided to preserve some of them in jars with olive oil. We are lucky to get tons of fresh olive oil from a Portuguese friend, Manuel. He moved to France decades ago but part of his family stayed in Portugal and he goes back to visit once in a while. He recently told me about the olive picking season in his hometown that just came to a close, where his family owns many olive trees. This ancient practice had been relatively neglected in recent decades after a rural exodus, and sadly many trees have been burnt by local vandalism. But a recent interest has brought people back to the land, at least seasonally, for olive picking and olive oil-making. Who knows, maybe we’ll go next year?

Porcini mushroom preserved in olive oil jars | Infinite belly

With the precious mushrooms cleaned and cut in small pieces and soaked in olive oil, all that was left to do was to pick a couple more ingredients to spice things up, and Adélaïde had some great ideas: raw garlic, roasted hazelnuts, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. They have been sitting here by the kitchen counter for a few days now and I must say this is testing my self-control. Meanwhile, with the rest of the fresh porcini we made a couple of simple, hearty dishes — pasta & turnovers — that feel and taste right for this time of the year, as the weather gets suddenly quite cold and we feel more like being inside taking photos of food and doing baking experiments.

Porcini mushroom creamy linguini with minestrone soup | Infinite belly

Porcini mushrooms turnovers, hand pies | Infinite belly

Cuiller en bois - Infinite belly

Porcini mushroom creamy linguini | Infinite belly


Porcini, garlic & parsley creamy linguini | Serves 2


  • 200-300g linguini pasta
  • 2-3 medium-sized porcini, (app. 200g raw)
  • 3 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil or duck fat
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • chicken stock, to boil the pasta
  • 20-30g parmesan cheese, grated
  • fleur de sel & black pepper

Linguini pasta & minestrone soup | Infinite belly

Porcini mushroom creamy linguini | Infinite belly

  1. Start by cleaning the porcini. Using a sharp knife, cut off the tip of the stalk to remove any dirt & gently grate the outer layer of the whole stalk. Using a brush or a damp cloth, remove any particles on the cap. If the porcini are quite mature, the pores under the cap can be green. You could either leave as is or use a knife/spoon to scoop out that layer. If necessary, briefly wash under cold water and dry well afterwards.
  2. Slice the porcini vertically, either whole, either after separating the stalk from the cap by gently twisting it.
  3. In a pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil to cook the linguini. No need to add salt since the stock should already be quite salty. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Porcini mushroom creamy linguini | Infinite bellyPorcini mushroom creamy linguini | Infinite belly
  4. In a very hot pan, heat up olive oil or duck fat and add the porcini. Stir frequently to avoid burning. When almost ready, add the chopped garlic and after a couple of minutes, the parsley as well as the crème fraîche.
  5. Mix in the drained linguini and add half of the parmesan cheese. Keep the other half for sprinkling after serving.

Note: we served this pasta dish with a minestrone vegetable soup. Recipe to come soon!

Minestrone soup | Infinite belly

Porcini mushroom creamy linguini | Infinite belly

Hâchoir - Infinite belly

Porcini mushroom turnovers, hand pies | Infinite belly

Porcini mushroom turnovers, hand pies | Infinite belly


Porcini & walnut turnovers (hand pies) | 6-8 turnovers


The shortcrust:

  • 250g all-purpose flour
  • 100g unsalted butter, diced
  • 25g duck fat (or butter)
  • 20g egg yolk (1 egg)
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 5g salt

Dough for porcini turnovers, hand pies | Infinite belly

  1. On a clean work surface, directly sift the flour and add the salt, diced butter & duck fat. Sweep up and gather the ingredients in your hands and gently rub them against each other until the butter and duck fat are integrated into the flour. The blend should look like rough sand and turn into a rich yellow color. This sablage should take a few minutes.
  2. Form a well and add in the beaten egg and water. In circles, rub the liquids into the flour/butter blend until it forms a homogenous dough. The crust should be smooth. Knead as little as possible. Shape into a ball and flatten it down a little so it’ll be easier to roll out. Wrap in film and refrigerate for at least an hour. You can even start by putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Note: if you have a stand mixer, you can sift the flour and add the salt, the chopped butter and duck fat directly in the mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed with the paddle until the blend gets the desired consistency. Then add in the egg and keep beating until it starts forming a ball. Finish smoothing out by hand, shape into a ball and flatten it down. Wrap in film and refrigerate.

Dough for porcini turnovers, hand pies | Infinite belly

The filling:

  • 200-250g porcini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
  • parsley, chopped
  • 3 tbsp walnuts, toasted & roughly crushed
  • olive oil or duck fat
  • fleur de sel & black pepper
  1. Start by cleaning the porcini. Using a sharp knife, cut off the tip of the stalk to remove any dirt & gently grate the outer layer of the whole stalk. Using a brush or a damp cloth, remove any particles on the cap. If the porcini are quite mature, the pores under the cap can be green. You could either leave as is or use a knife/spoon to scoop out that layer. If necessary, briefly wash under cold water and dry well afterwards.
  2. Toast walnuts on a baking sheet for app. 10 min in a convection oven at 160°C. Roughly crush them with a mortar or chop them up with a knife.
  3. Slice the porcini vertically, either whole, either after separating the stalk from the cap by gently twisting it.
  4. In a very hot pan, heat up olive oil or duck fat and add the porcini. Stir frequently to avoid burning. When almost ready, add the parsley as well as the crème fraîche. Off the heat, add the toasted walnuts and mix until homogeneous. Reserve until cold.

Porcini mushroom turnovers, hand pies | Infinite belly

Porcini mushroom turnovers, hand pies | Infinite belly

Make the turnovers:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp milk
  • water
  1. Dust your work surface with a thin and even layer of flour. Roll out the crust into a rectangular shape until it is app. 3mm thick. Make sure the crust doesn’t stick by rotating it regularly by a quarter of a turn.
  2. Using a pastry wheel cutter or a knife, trim the edges to create a large rectangle, then divide it into 6-8 even rectangles.
  3. Place one or two spoonfuls of the mushroom filling on half of each rectangle and slightly brush the edges with water so that they stick. Fold the other half of the crust over and gently press the edges with your finger to make sure the filling doesn’t escape.
  4. Mark the edges of each turnover with the handle of a spoon or fork (as shown in the picture above). This will seal the turnover and also make it pretty!
  5. Glaze the turnovers: in a bowl, mix the egg yolk and milk. In French, this blend is called dorure (gilding) because of the golden color it gives the crust when baking. Gently brush each turnover with this glaze. With a sharp, pointy knife, make three diagonal incisions on each turnover — hot air needs to be able to escape while baking so that the turnovers don’t tear.
  6. Bake for 25-30 min. in a convection oven at 160°C or until the crust in golden and baked throughout.

Porcini mushroom turnovers, hand pies | Infinite belly

Hâchoir vertical - Infinite belly

Porcini mushrooms preserved in olive oil jars | Infinite belly


Porcini preserved in olive oil, herbs, garlic & hazelnuts


  • porcini mushrooms, cut into cubes or whole
  • herbs: thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, fresh or dried — you can also experiment and tinker with other combinations!
  • garlic cloves, whole & unpeeled
  • hazelnuts (or other nuts to taste), toasted & roughly crushed
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & black pepper

Porcini mushrooms preserved in olive oil jars | Infinite belly

  1. Cut the large porcini into cubes and keep the small ones whole or cut in half.
  2. Toast hazelnuts on a baking sheet for app. 10 min in a convection oven at 160°C. Roughly crush them with a mortar or chop them with a knife.
  3. Fill up glass jar(s) with a screw-in lid or other airtight glass container(s) with a combination of the aforementioned herbs, whole garlic cloves, salt & pepper and toasted hazelnuts.
  4. Pour olive oil over the mushrooms until they are fully covered.
  5. Place the jars without the lid on a baking sheet and bake for app. 3 hours in a preheated oven at 90°C.
  6. If you used screw-in lid jars, seal them when they are still hot and flip them over to let them cool. If you used jars with another type of closure, let them cool before sealing them and sterilize them in a hot-pressure cooker (cover them with water and boil for 10 min., then turn off the heat and wait until the pressure has released before opening the cooker).

Note: when using the preserved porcini, make sure to drain and keep the oil! Its flavor is simply fantastic. You can use it to cook, season any dish, salad or carpaccio in order to add this great porcini & herbs nutty concentrated taste.

Trees in the forest | Infinite belly

Microscopic mushroom town | Infinite belly

Auvergne forest & ferns | Infinite belly

Infinite belly

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10 thoughts on “The forager’s harvest, Part II — porcini

  1. just finding your blog, but your recipes and photography are stunning. this speaks to me on so many levels – i find that foraging is making peace with yourself and the earth simultaneously. and to be able to look for porcini! your woods are so deep and gorgeous, i could lose myself in these photographs forever. beautiful recipes that showcase this awesome fungus! be well, happy to have found you! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Danielle, thank you so much for your kind words. We’re happy you enjoyed the pictures & recipes! We love this region and our long walks in the forest — it has so many faces and is ever changing.
      Just had a look at your site and enjoyed reading your ribollita entry. Your writing certainly resonates with how we feel too! Also, your mustard maple pumpkin apple soup looks really delicious — we’ll try to make it soon! Have a wonderful weekend x

      Like

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