This is the perfect time of year to cook up some earthy, meaty wild mushrooms. This dish is one of my husband’s signature dishes. He doesn’t cook very often but when he does, it’s one of his three signature creations and I’m not allowed near the kitchen, which is excruciating as I’m a complete control-freak when it comes to my kitchen and making sure the pasta isn’t cooked a hair over being al dente etc. So I was banished to the living room while he took the helm in our coveted “corner”. There’s one area of our kitchen, which happens to be a corner and it’s where everything goes on – you can’t do much in our kitchen without being in the “control corner”.
His dish is simple but stunning and despite my protests of him cooking way too much pasta for 3 of us, I ate every last piece. Even my daughter who balked when she saw the “wierd-looking” mushrooms, devoured her bowl.
You can use any mushroom combo for this dish and any pasta, but here’s what he used and it worked beautifully.
Wild Mushroom Penne
2 cups of mixed wild mushrooms (brown caps and chanterelle are great – but use what you can find).
1 cup dried mushrooms ( I recommend either Maitake or Porcini for their deep flavor)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red or yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup white cooking wine
3 rashers nitrate-free bacon, cubed (if you’re veggie, you can eliminate the bacon, but I add it for a richer flavor.)
16 ounces pasta (you can use any kind but he used this amazing Montebello Pasta – an Organic artisan pasta from Italy, which is sublime).
A handful of flat leafed parsley, chopped
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
Soak the dried mushrooms for 1/2 an hour in 2 cups of very hot water.
Heat a large saute pan and add the onions and garlic. Fry until translucent. Add the cooking wine and fry until it evaporates.
Add the bacon and fry gently for about 3 minutes (you don’t want bacon to crisp or brown.)
Drain the dried mushrooms, but keep the draining water as it makes the perfect stock.
Add the fresh and soaked mushrooms and fry gently for about 5-8 minutes, stirring all the time. Add a ladle of the mushroom broth (from soaked mushrooms), and continue to fry. It’s up to you how much stock you add, depending on how much liquid you like with your pasta.
Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the package directions, then drain. As soon as you have drained the pasta, spoon it into warmed bowls and ladle the mushroom ragout generously over each bowl. Sprinkle with the parsley and a little Parmesan and eat straight away.