Mushrooms and truffles. The wild Italian food staples that are rarely eaten alone, but are essential ingredients for flavoring and elevating many dishes. People either love or hate their musky, earthy flavor.
When speaking of mushrooms and Italian cooking, recipes are dominated by porcini, the wild boletus edulis, found throughout Italy for much of the year, but also found in the New Mexico and Colorado mountains in the late summer.
To find porcini, you need a good understanding of their habitat, a good eye and the convergence of the right amount of sun and moisture. My wife and I have had several successful years of finding porcini in Southern Colorado near the headwaters of the Rio Grande, usually around 9,500 to 10,500 feet in elevation. The king boletus, as the deep burgundy porcini are known (light tan and orange are edible, but don’t have the flavor of the kings), likes a little sun, a little shade and is usually in pine forests. Quite often, chanterelles are found in the same area.
With the aid of a good mushroom book and a little experience, these two mushrooms are two of the most easily identifiable wild mushrooms in the Rocky Mountains. They are also two of the tastiest. The porcini flavor becomes more intense when it’s dried, while chanterelles are best cooked while fresh.
If you aren’t a mushroom hunter, fresh chanterelles are sometimes found in the produce section of better markets. Dried porcini can be ordered online, purchased dried in most local markets, most notably at M’tucci’s Italian Café & Market. Look for packets with creamy colored mushrooms with large pieces. Avoid the dark and brown-black porcini.
Truffles are much more expensive than porcini for the simple reason that they are impossible to find without a good truffle dog (they use pigs in France). There are several varieties of truffles in Italy, but the most prized is the white, both for its rarity and its aroma (they sell for around $2,000 a pound). No one has really discovered why they are found where they are, but they are common in the forests of Northern and Central Italy. The white truffles from Alba in Piedmont and the Marches are usually found in the fall. Festivals are held in many towns, with behind the scenes wheeling and dealing for the best truffles. The best quality comes from frequent late summer and early fall rain, which ironically is bad for the grape harvest. There is an old Italian saying, “tartufo buono, vino cattivo” (good truffles, bad wine).
If you come across fresh truffles, they should be very firm and their fragrance should be overwhelming.
The M’tucci’s team went on a truffle walk last June in Western Tuscany and marveled at Giotto, as the mixed breed truffle hound did his thing, finding them buried as deep as 8-12 inches underground. We were told we would only find black summer truffles at that time of year. As you can see in the photo above, we found several.
Part of the truffle experience at Savini Tartufi was a lunch with every product containing truffles: salami, cheese, pasta, and even ice cream. It was excellent, but a bit overwhelming. Most of the items were good because they followed the cardinal rule of truffle use: a little goes a long way. Fresh truffles are typically shaved thinly or grated over pasta, risotto or eggs. The Café & Market has an excellent Olive Oil with White Truffles.
We offer truffled french fries at M’tucci’s Italian and M’tucci’s Moderno, lightly dressing them with a truffle olive oil just before serving.
Both restaurants serve Pappardella all Crema di Porcini, but M’tucci’s Moderno also uses dried porcini with Braised Beef Short Ribs, Lemon Artichoke Fussiloni and Spaghettini Funghi.
Dried porcini have such an intense flavor, that the liquid you use to reconstitute them can be used in your risotto or pasta recipe. I learned this technique from Marcella Hazan’s cookbooks. Place an ounce of dried porcini in 16 oz. of lukewarm water for at least 30 minutes. Line a colander with a paper towel and drain the porcini with the liquid going into a bowl. Squeeze the paper towel to get all of the liquid into the bowl. Now you’re ready for cooking.
Try this recipe with dried porcini.
Braised Pork Chops with Tomatoes, Cream and Porcini (serves 4-6)
1/4 C. vegetable oil
2 lbs. Center Cut Pork Chops 3/4” thick
1/2 C dry white wine
1/2 C drained & chopped plum tomatoes
1/2 C heavy whipping cream
Salt & fresh pepper
1 oz. dried porcini ) constituted as instructed above) SAVE THE LIQUID!!
1/2 lb. white button mushrooms
In a pan with lid, that will be large enough for the chops, sauté them over medium high until brown in 1 T of oil.
Add the white wine to deglaze for 15 seconds, then add tomatoes, cream, salt & Pepper, plus the chopped porcini. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover.
Cook 30-45 minutes test the chops. Meanwhile, reduce the porcini liquid to about 1/3 cup in a saucepan
Thinly slice the mushrooms. Heat 1 T. oil in a separate pan add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook until their liquid has evaporated. Then add the reduced porcini liquid and cook until the mushrooms absorb that liquid.
Remove them from the heat and add them to the pan with the chops cooking slowly for another 5-10 minutes. If the sauce is too thin, leave the lid off.
NEWS FROM M’TUCCI’S
M’tucci’s @ Lava Rock Brewing Co.
HAPPY HOUR & NFL Football!
Lucky 7 Happy Hour features The Burger, a 10” Margherita or Pepperoni Green Chile Pizza, Charcuterie Boards and Wings for $7, Monday - Friday 3:00 - 6:30. Pair the food with a beer for $10.50 or $11, depending on the beer. Not eating (why not?), then $1 off all pints. The NFL is up and running and you can catch your favorite team on one of our large five screens.
HAPPY HOUR EVERY MONDAY UNTIL THE END OF THE FIRST HALF OF MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL!
New this weekend, Pinche Pilz, a German-style kellerbier. It will go perfectly with a Chianina cheeseburger and weekend football.
$5 basket of Wings all day on Sunday
RETURNING BEER - Vacation Haze makes a return to our taps. A Coconut Hazy IPA (5.5% ABV and 30 IBU)
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and we are donating to the local Rio Grande Down Syndrome Network - 10% of Gross Food Sales and $1 from every pint of Petroglyph Wit will go to the Foundation all month long.
October 19: Color Me Beautiful - Create your fragrance flower. Space is limited. Call to reserve.
Thanks to all our fans who voted our Servers the Best of Rio Rancho.
Beef Tortelloni - Fresh Cheese Tortelloni pasta tossed with a creamy Rosa Sauce, Cajun spiced beef tips, diced tomatoes and topped with scallions and feta cheese.
Casa Lapostolle Canto, Meritage, Chile - Aromas of cranberry & spices, notes of black pepper, balanced tannins w/ chocolate & coffee finish
Pan Seared Fish of the Day - Perfectly pan seared Diver Scallops are served with silky garlic mashed potatoes, roasted artichokes, sauteed arugula, topped with a caper lemon butter sauce and smoked prosciutto powder
Tomaresca Chardonnay, Italy - Aromas of peach & pineapple w/ balanced acidity w/ a fruity finish
House Cut of the Day:
Cut of the Day - Hand Cut 24 oz. T-bone, grilled on an open flame, served with creamy garlic mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, and a traditional Italian Salsa Verde
Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia - Expressive dark plum with a seductive black currant richness
Tonight, 8:30 - Melissa Rios Live in the Bar
Thursday, 7:00 - Oscar Butler Live in the Bar
Weekend Brunch - 11:00 - 3:00
Cut of the Day - 24oz Hand Cut Harris Ranch Porterhouse, Salt Water Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, Grilled Lemon Balsamic Reduction
Pan Seared Seafood - Icelandic Cod, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Grilled Artichoke, Sautéed Arugula Lemon Caper Beurre Blanc
Ravioli - Red Chile Three Cheese Ravioli, House Spicy Bacon, Artichoke, Roasted Red Bell Pepper, Shallot Light Lemon Cream Sauce, Arugula, Shaved Parmesan
Braise - Slow Roasted Chianina Beef, Wild Mushroom Cream Ragu, House Rotatelli Pasta, Arugula, Shaved Parmesan
Weekend Brunch 11:00 - 3:00
M’tucci’s Italian Café & Market
Voted Albuquerque’s Best Deli by the Albuquerque Journal’s Readers.
The Café & Market continues to offer amazing pastries in our display case every day and we’re busy planning for the holidays. We carry the same great Italian imports, all of our artisan breads, and a wide variety of imported, domestic, and house made cheese and meat. There is an expanded selection of coffee and pastries. We have charcuterie boards to eat in or take out with wine and beer by the glass. Click here to see our menu.
We cater events of all sizes and varieties. Contact Ivy for your next event, large or small. We can handle it!
Click here to see our catering menu. 505.350.0019 or email@example.com
M’TUCCI’S AROUND TOWN
Our market items can be purchased at a couple of locations in Albuquerque. We deliver our fresh bread every Tuesday and Friday to Silver Street Market at 2nd and Silver. Choose from Sourdough, Fennel Rye, Wheat, Baguette, Ciabatta, and Raisin Rosemary Focaccia.
Drinking at Bosque in Nob Hill? You can order a M’tucci’s Charcuterie Board while there.
SERVICE INDUSTRY NIGHT & DISCOUNTS
Area service industry workers can get a Service Industry card from us by showing proof of employment. With the card you receive 10% off your check every day and 20% off on Sundays from 6:00 - 9:00. Dine in only.
Our food is available for delivery with Door Dash or for pick up. Pick up something for the weekend or on your way home from work. The links to ordering are on the Home page.
MTUCCI’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL
Videos about making cocktails and pasta and getting to know the M’tucci’s culture. Click here
See you next Friday - Ciao!