We must admit, this year, we were rather empty-handed when it came to porcini mushrooms, chanterelles and other trumpets-of-death. It must be said that given the scorching summer and the uncertain rains, it would have been necessary to camp permanently between forests and clearings to flush them out. The picking of mushrooms does not support the dilettantes, the delighted natives who fall on their hats as if by magic. This is for counter tales where the sardine is too big to enter the port of Marseille.
On the contrary, the quest for the mushroom demands endurance, modesty and self-sacrifice. Sometimes it gives you the only presence of a stunted boletus when you dreamed of an overflowing basket. She is as intractable with the Boeotian as with the informed mycologist. Loyalty to places is not a guarantee of harvest either. The “good places” that we thought we knew so well are sometimes as deserted as the Soviet steppe after Operation “Barbarossa”.
Happy who, like the poacher Raboliot in Maurice Genevoix’s novel, can feed on “Orange chanterelles”, of “snowballs” and of “Pink mushrooms” pushing “In bands under the pines or in grassy glades”. But it often happens that the endless quest for the mushroom ends with a greengrocer who presents it to you kindly to sell it to you at the price of tournedos.
A handful of chanterelles or porcini mushrooms later, here we are in the blissful kitchen like a treat-sauce before Top chef but with a touch of anguish as powerful as the hooch in the terrine. For it is not a peaceful mushroom omelet preparation. It’s like it’s always the first time when it comes to blackmailing chanterelle and drooling omelet. The exercise is certainly not as perilous as the Bocuse d’Or but it requires the application of a fly fisherman going to tease brown trout. This is undoubtedly due to all the affection we have for mushrooms but also to the passions unleashed by their cooking methods. In oil? Buttered ? With low flame or with high fire? We remember the telluric polemics on the subject referring the spat with Zemmour and others to nursery games.
One hungry post-wrap evening, we found ourselves in a disengaged canteen where the bellicose boss had decided to do battle on the subject with our coturne, as good titrator as a seasoned mycologist. After long aperitif games, they decided to compete in a tournament in a tiny kitchen, armed with cheeky frying pans, around an imposing quantity of oyster mushrooms, porcini mushrooms and other meadow rosés. With cream, parsley, omelette, we were asked to taste everything with the diplomacy of a UNIFIL peacekeeper in South Lebanon. The night was more of a series of demining than a succession of tastings. After the last drop of a flask of pure malt at the time of the rooster crowing, the two belligerents promised each other the beauty with a morel casserole. That we are still waiting …
Who better than the Good Cuisine of Périgord (1) can offer us the true recipe “Perigord omelette with porcini mushrooms” ? We owe this culinary “bible”, published for the first time in 1929, to Renée Mallet-Maze known as “la Mazille” (1891-1984), a culinary author, who collected more than 400 recipes from the oral tradition of this region. His description of the porcini omelette is a gastronomic epic. We want to read it aloud as much as to taste it:
“The mushroom omelet is a classic dish that everyone is familiar with; but the Périgord omelette with porcini mushrooms, which has become famous for the way it is prepared and the seasoning which composes it, will always remain an essentially local and excellent dish.
“First of all, the porcini mushrooms, if they are fresh, do not need to be peeled – I am talking about the hats, because for the tails you cut them flush with the head and you peel them by cutting the earthy end and keeping only the very healthy parts that will be used to make the mince.
“Once the mushrooms are ready, you wash them with several waters and you let them soak for half an hour in the last.
“Then you drain them in a towel and at that point you do one of the following two methods.
“The first is made with the aim of making the porcini mushrooms so easy to digest, although they have not cooked for a long time, that we eat them with impunity even at the evening meal. It consists of blanching the porcini mushrooms for one or two minutes in salted boiling water. As soon as they have made the water a little cloudy and bitter, you drain them on a dry cloth. It is essential that they are completely dry when you fry them with oil mixed with a little fine fat.
“The second method is recommended for people who say that a porcini mushroom in boiling water loses its aroma and flavor. In this case, the porcini mushrooms should cook over moderate heat for half an hour and not sauté for a few minutes over high heat as I have seen in various regions. The mushroom cooked in this hasty way may not be bad, but it is very indigestible.
“For my part, I do not find that a porcini mushroom in boiling water loses much finesse. But I recommend the second way to cook it, which, to be a little longer, is more rational.
“Anyway, here are your porcini mushrooms cut into pieces, set on the stove with half oil, half fat or even just oil. Let them take a nice color and, when they are browned enough, cover them with a braised lid or not, so that they do not dry out. Add a small mince of parsley and garlic that you add to the healthiest tails, also chopped.
“When making the omelet, remove the mushrooms from the heat, beat your eggs vigorously, add the porcini mushrooms while continuing to whisk the mixture, return the pan to heat over high heat, with a little fat if necessary, and make your creamy but seared omelet, which you fold back on itself by a little shake that you give to the pan.
“Serve the porcini omelette on a heated dish without wasting time. In the event that you blanch the porcini mushrooms, a quarter of an hour is enough to brown them well. Otherwise, it takes half an hour for them to become digestible. “
Finally, do you want to know Léon Daudet’s medical opinion on the porcini omelette? “Nothing is restorative, invigorating, invigorating like a mushroom omelet.” (2)
(1) la Mazille, the good cuisine of Périgord (ed. Flammarion, 2013, 24,90 euros)
(2) Extract from “To drink and to eat” (ed. Le Pigeonnier)