el boleto

 

Boletus edulis (basque: ontozuri)

This jewel of a mushroom is one I bought from the open-air market in the middle of town. I'm almost positive it's a porcini. If it's not, then it's a close relative (probably Boletus pinophilus).  Here they sell for around €25/kg, which comes to about €13/pound. Again...if that doesn't get you excited, I don't know what will.

Check out the stem, fatter than it is wide, and the light brown cap. These are the mushrooms cartoons are made of. I wish computers were scratch and sniff, because the smell of this raw, earth-covered fungus is intoxicating: nutty and a little like sourdough. The flesh is super meaty when cooked, and the stem even peels apart like chicken or beef.

No one has found a way to cultivate these mushrooms; they only grow in the wild, typically at the end of summer and into fall.  Bonus: They're a great first mushroom if you're foraging, as the only poisonous variety, with its red stem and grayish cap, looks like some dumb kid colored it wrong.

They're delicious, whether sauteed plain in olive oil (as we enjoyed ours) our used in a risotto, soup, or maybe to stuff some game hens? mmm.