A seasonal treat
Porcini mushrooms (boletus edulis) not easily cultivated so they are fairly rare. You seldom find them in supermarkets and usually in delis or farmer’s markets. The season is limited as they appear in pine forests after the first rains. In South Africa they are foraged in the Western Cape in autumn and after the early summer rains in the Northern areas. People who are in the know protectively keep their mushroom areas secret!
In Europe you find them in the lovely food markets where I cannot resist photographing them, and of course, when we are self-catering I always buy some.
I far prefer the flavour of porcini to truffles. To me this is the ‘king of the fungi’ world.
When we were in Italy just over a year ago one of the best starters I enjoyed was porcini mushrooms with a baked egg. The flavours were sublime and I could not wait to repeat the dish at home.
After recent the rains up North porcini are available so I bought a few especially for this treat. You can use a mixture of brown and other cultivated mushrooms and add some dried (rehydrated) porcini if you cannot find the fresh.
A hint of garlic and fresh thyme compliment the mushroom flavours. And mushrooms must be cooked with butter!
This dish makes a fabulous meatless main course, decadent breakfast or an interesting starter.
The mushroom base can be prepared well in advance and just baked with the egg just before serving, making it ideal for catering for parties. If I had a restaurant I would put it on the menu!
The only trick is watching the baking time to ensure that the egg white is no longer wobbly and the yolk is still creamy.
Serve it with crisp toast or fresh bread.