Perhaps the most enduring way to eat spring porcini is grilled. Unlike fall porcini, which herald the coming of winter and hearty meals cooked indoors, the spring porcini of the West Coast fruits just in time for the kick-off of the barbecue season, with summer solstice being the peak time in my region.
Arranged on a bed of fresh spring greens picked moments earlier, this porcini salad was the perfect accompaniment to a dinner of grilled Copper River sockeye and local Washington asparagus. To prepare the mushrooms for grilling, I brushed on a marinade of olive oil, garlic, and chopped herbs from the garden (thyme, oregano, parsley), then set them immediately on the hot grill, cooking over medium heat until the porcini were lightly browned on both sides. A dressing of olive oil, cider vinegar, and honey finished the salad.
This is a similar presentation to chef Keith Luce's recipe for Roasted Porcini with Honey & Thyme in my article on "The Poor Man's Steak" in the October '08 issue of Seattle Metropolitan magazine, except rather than cooking the porcini in a stuffy kitchen you can hang outside with friends by the barbecue drinking a beer and admiring the porcini as it browns up.
Mushrooms & Marinade
1/2 lb fresh medium-sized porcini buttons, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley choped
salt and pepper, to taste
Whisk together marinade ingredients. Slice porcini, brush on marinade, and immediately place on hot grill over medium heat, turning periodically and brushing on more marinade to keep moist. Grill until nicely golden brown, but not dark brown. With tongs, remove from grill and arrange over tender spring greens
Equal parts olive oil and cider vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Add honey to taste. Drizzle over porcini and greens. Finish with a few shavings of romano. The sweetness of honey combined with the sharpness of romano makes for an ideal pairing for the meaty porcini mushrooms, and the warmth of the porcini contrasted with the cool, crispy salad greens is a match for the season. Enjoy outside with a glass of rosé and good friends, as we did.