Gerber’s Porcini Panini with Teleme and Caramelized Onions | CUESA

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Gerber’s Porcini Panini with Teleme and Caramelized Onions


Connie Green and Sarah Scott, authors of The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes (Studio, 2010)

It was demonstrated on June 4, 2011

Every family has its favorite dishes, and this porcini panini is in our chef-tribe’s top five.  Certain recipes, like some songs, resonate with the flavor of a magical time and place.  During a particularly good porcini-hunting weekend, John Gerber (one of the early French Laundry alumni) made this simple sandwich.  It’s a rare delight for a chef to use an expensive ingredient in a very basic way.  The simplicity of perfectly ripe teleme cheese oozing between slices of grilled porcini on crispy bread is perfection.

Serves 4


Caramelized onions
2 tablespoons pure olive oil
1 large onion, halved and cut into ¼-inch slices
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
¾ to 1 pound porcini mushrooms (king boletes, cepes), cleaned
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Porcini Butter
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed to remove any fine sand or grit
½ pound (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon porcini powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

4 ciabatta-style rolls or 1 ciabatta loaf, cut into 4 segments
½ cup porcini butter
Caramelized onions
Grilled porcini
8 ounces teleme cheese, at room temperature, cut into ¼-inch slices


For the caramelized onions

1.  Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the onion, salt and pepper.  Stir to coat with the oil. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion starts to brown and soften. 

2.  Turn down the heat to low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft and tender, about 25 minutes. Cover the pan, turn off the heat, and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.

For the mushrooms

1.  Prepare a grill to medium heat.  Combine the oil, garlic, thyme and rosemary in a small bowl.  Slice the porcini into ¼-inch slices and place on a baking sheet.  Brush both sides of the mushroom slices with some of the oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
2.  Grill the mushrooms for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until they are tender and golden brown.  Remove from the grill and hold in a warm place.

For the porcini butter

1.  Place the porcini mushrooms and 1 cup cold water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let sit for 15 minutes.  Drain the mushrooms, saving the liquid.  Press on the porcini to extract all the liquid.  Set aside the mushrooms.  Return the porcini liquid to the saucepan and place over medium-high heat.  Cook to reduce the liquid to 1 tablespoon.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

2.  Finely mince the rehydrated mushrooms. Place 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, or until the garlic is softened. Stir in the reserved mushroom liquid and cool to room temperature.

3.  Place the mushrooms in the bowl of a food processor. Process until they are very finely chopped, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Cut the remaining 2 sticks butter into 8 pieces. Add to the food processor along with the porcini powder, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Pulse together until the butter is creamy and the mushrooms are evenly incorporated. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and/or lemon juice as needed.

4.  Roll the butter into a log and wrap in plastic wrap or place in an airtight storage container. The butter will keep in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.  It can also be frozen for up to 1 month.

To serve

1.  Using a serrated knife, slice a thin portion of the top crust off the rolls or bread segments to make them flat. Slice them in half crosswise, preferably no more than ½-inch thick. Trim off any excess bread if the halves are too thick.

2.  Heat a sandwich or panini press. Spread the insides of the bread halves with 1 tablespoon of porcini butter each. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of caramelized onion on the bottom half of each sandwich. Divide the porcini among the sandwiches, placing them in a single layer on top of the onion.  Top with the teleme. Close the sandwiches. Brush the tops and bottoms of the bread with the remaining oil mixture, adding more oil to the bowl, if needed.  Cook in a sandwich press until the cheese is melted and the bread is crusty and golden brown.  Serve immediately.


CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Learn More »