The more kings I capture, the more I realize how little I know about this mushroom. Here in the PNW we are graced with kings galore. There are spring kings in the Cascades (probably a different species from Boletus edulis, but the DNA sequencing has yet to be done), summer kings high in the mountains near treeline, and fall kings from below freezing all the way to sea level, from mountains to coast. The fall kings are the most flavorful; their nutty taste permeates whatever ingredients you use.
In my experience, if I find Amanita muscaria in numbers, Boletus edulis is often nearby. Both in the Rockies and Cascades I’ve stumbled onto huge fruitings of the two species in the same habitat, with individuals sometimes nearly touching cap to cap.
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I like to eat. To eat well. And especially, to eat well without getting all technical. Here’s a rich recipe that’s perfect for the tuckered out fungi forager at the end of the day, when you’ve spent thousands of calories in search of the king and could care less about piling them back on, the sort of pasta dish that’s started with a pot of water on the boil and ended when the noodles are al dente—about 10 minutes from start to finish. Yet I guarantee you it will taste like a heavenly creation from the best of Italian retsaurants.
Porcini in Cream Sauce over Pasta
1 knob butter
1-2 shallots, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large king bolete, chopped
salt and pepper
1 lb. pasta
parmesan for grating
1. Get that pot on the boil. Meanwhile, as the water’s heating up, finely chop a couple shallots (or an equivalent amount of yellow onion if that’s what you have on hand) and saute in butter. Mince a clove or two of garlic and add to the saute. Chop up a large porcino or a few buttons and add to the saute, cooking for 5 minutes or so over medium-high and stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Deglaze with a splash of vermouth, then reduce heat to medium-low and stir in heavy cream to taste. The pasta should be nearly done. Drain pasta and serve. Pour porcini cream sauce over pasta, then sprinkle generously with grated parmesan cheese and a pinch of chopped parsley.
Not only is this an ideal meal for the weary mushroom hunter, it’s also a fine lazy day repast to go with the Sunday papers and all the wonderful news in the world.