Porcini Couscous

The following recipe uses dry Boletus edulis, since most people can find them more readily than fresh. Also, drying the bolete seems to bring out some of the depth in its flavor, whereas the fresh West-coast variety often has strong overtones of pine needles that one must take into account when cooking with it. This recipe also works very well with fresh or dried Agaricus augustus. If you wish to substitute fresh mushrooms, use about 6 oz, and sautée them first in a bit of olive oil for 5 minutes. The dried tomatoes give this couscous a somewhat tart and savory character. Elswhere I describe a sweet Moroccan-style couscous using Laetiporus sulphureus, which would also work with B. edulis or A. augustus.

Soak the dry mushrooms in 3/4 cup water for 1/2 hour. Mix the mushrooms and water into the couscous, and let sit for 10 minutes. Place a cheesecloth or clean cotton towel in a collander, and spoon the moistened cousous onto the cloth. Place the collander with cloth and couscous into a large pot with one inch of boiling water at the bottom, cover the pot and steam for 10 minutes. Remove from the pot, and spread the couscous out onto a baking sheet, breaking up the clumps with your fingers. With your fingers, mix in the olive oil, then the garlic, tomatoes, salt, pepper and shredded carrot. Return to the cheesecloth and place back in the pot for an additional 10 minutes of steaming. Serve.