There’s a beautiful stretch of woods just around the corner from where I live. The trees stand tall on hilltops and overlook Rome on one side, lakes on the other, the papal summer residence and the sea in the far distance. The scenery leaves you jaw-locked-open, but what I love most as I walk through paths of fallen leaves and scattered chestnuts, are the tiny wild sowbreads that struggle to poke their pink flowers from beneath the earth, the mystical rays of sun that filter through trees leading to who knows where up above and the smell of earthy mushrooms. Mushroom hunting is a must here and you can’t leave the woods without bringing some home. The other must, is that you need to be sure you are choosing the right ones, you don’t want to die after eating bread and “deadly” mushrooms. It goes without saying that you need some mushroom knowledge before you go picking, that’s why we always stick to just two varieties, the ones we are sure of and can’t get wrong.
Time runs fast when you go mushroom hunting, there's lots of walking...searching...hoping, as you look right there, next to that tree, under those leaves and it may happen to be, that someone beats your same path leaving you empty handed and disappointed. This is when all the lunch plans fall apart. The funghi porcini that you were dying to have? Well that’s not going to happen now. Unless, you decide to go buy them :)
And that’s what we did. We bought lovely porcini mushrooms from an old lady that was selling some just off the road on our way back home. The mushrooms that were supposed to fall in our basket were on her stand and were being sold by the weight of gold!
This potato and porcini mushroom pie paid off in not finding the mushrooms ourselves and rewarded our effort in trying to do so.
RECIPE – POTATO AND PORCINI MUSHROOM PIE
4 medium size porcini mushrooms
4 medium size potatoes sliced 5 mm thick
2 garlic cloves
Extra virgin olive oil
In a preheated pan add 3 tbsp. of olive oil and 2 crushed garlic cloves, add the diced porcini mushrooms, some salt and pepper. Saute’ the mushrooms for 3-4 minutes, turn off the heat, add some parsley and leave aside. Slice each potato 5mm thick. Oil an oven proof dish with some olive oil and coat with breadcrumbs. Place the potatoes in a circular manner to cover the bottom of the dish, season with salt and pepper. Add some of the cooked porcini on top of the potatoes. Start building layers by alternating potatoes and mushrooms. Finish the last layer with potatoes, brush with olive oil and coat with breadcrumb. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes at 180ºC. Leave in the oven some more, if necessary, to form a nice crispy gold crust. Serve warm.