San Severino Luciano is in the Pollino National Park, the largest in Europe at almost 2000 square kilometers. Pollino is a wonderful Summer refuge from the searing July and August heat. Its dappled shade a welcome respite. It is also home to the oldest tree in Europe the 1230 year Pino. In the autumn and winter months it is a treasure trove of amazing produce, porcini, truffles, wild saffron and chestnuts. These are then preserved, dried or frozen to be available all year round.
Last year l was lucky enough to buy 5 kilos of fresh porcini and chanterelle from Tesori del Sottobosco de Pollino so l headed back there to see what was available in February. I bought of course dried porcini, not having had much success in the past l was hesitant. From the moment l started cooking with these amazing dried mushrooms l was taken back 30 years to Macon in Southern Burgundy and eating poulet de bresse with a cream and porcini sauce. The pungent, earthy aromas are unmistakable. I made some tagliatelle and tossed it in the light cream sauce, but it would equally be good with chicken, veal or steak.
Next l wanted to make arancini, a rich risotto of porcini and wild saffron, when cold formed into an apple shape with a hidden treasure of mozzarella in the centre. I rolled them in Pane de Trecchina breadcrumbs then deep-fried them. Delicious served on porcini cream sauce or with my romensco pepper sauce.
Lastly l wanted to create something completely different, a pan fried fillet of sea bass on a crispy potato base with a rich sauce of porcini, local fresh sausage, tomato and Alianico red wine. Delicious without over-powering the fish.