Tagliatelle ai Funghi
For the pasta, you can use any dried, long pasta but fresh is better. I always make fresh pasta for mushrooms, using a fairly wide cut, somewhere between tagliatelle and fettuccine. Pappardelle could be used as well, if you prefer a wide pasta. Unfortunately, we have a shortage of flour due to the COVID-19 outbreak, so I used a surprisingly good Spaghetti alla Chitarra that I found at Publix. Too many bakers in my family here, and as you likely know, the pasta aisle is bare.
For the mushrooms, if you can find fresh Porcini, use them. Morels are also incredible for this dish. If you find fresh mushrooms of this stature, then skip the dried porcini and chicken stock, letting the fresh wild mushrooms shine. Other fresh mushrooms are great too: Oysters, Hen of the Woods, Chanterelles, Trumpets, etc. For several years now, Lobster Mushrooms have been readily available in the Nashville Farmer’s Market, and they are good as well. Mixtures of wild mushrooms are great, but if you have fresh Porcini or Morels, I’d stick to monovarietal, as those two varietals have such distinctive characteristics, and they shine when paired with simple butter and pasta.
¼ lb fresh pasta
½ ounce dried Porcini mushrooms
2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
Sage leaves (fresh)
Small sprig fresh Rosemary
1 T. good quality olive oil
4 T. good quality unsalted butter
8 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms
1 small leek, white and very light green parts only, sliced lengthways and cleaned, and then sliced thinly into half-moons.
1 small clove garlic, crushed and minced (optional)
Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for grating
Fresh wild chives, finely diced (optional)
(you can start your salted water to boil at the beginning, and drop your pasta once the sauce is ready – step 8)
If using the dried porcini, bring 2 cups chicken stock just to a boil, add the dried mushrooms, a few fresh sage leaves, and the spring of rosemary. Remove from heat and allow to steep to reconstitute the mushrooms and flavor the broth (about ½ hour).
Clean the Baby Bella (or wild) mushrooms and thinly slice lengthways, keeping the shape of the stemmed mushroom.
Strain the broth into a bowl through a fine mesh sieve, remove the sage and rosemary and discard, and press the mushrooms free of their liquid (into the broth).
Dice the reconstituted mushrooms and set aside.
Add 1 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter to a heated pan and sauté the leeks over medium high heat until softening, adding the garlic to the leeks about a minute or two in.
Add 2 T. butter to the pan, then the mushrooms, tossing frequently. Sprinkle a pinch or two of kosher salt over the mushrooms as you toss, sweating them.
As the fresh mushrooms begin to soften, add the reconstituted porcini and a little of the broth.
Cook over medium heat, adding broth to keep the sauce moist. When the sauce is ready, it will retain a bit of liquid, and be rich and flavorful.
Add the remaining 2 T. butter to the sauce to finish, along with a generous ½ cup of grated cheese.
Toss with your pasta, plate, and finish with more grated cheese and a sprinkle of fresh wild chives.
Any of our Baroli or Barbareschi will pair well with this dish, but well-aged Barolo was the winner with this dish (March 21, 2020). If you’re using fresh porcini only, then I suggest a Barbaresco with a bit of age, which will be brighter and pair well with the fresh mushrooms. Using the recipe above, with the dried porcini, you will find a bigger, richer wine can be used, but I do suggest a Barolo with some age on it, preferably something from 2010 or before.
Cigliuti “Vie Erte” Barbaresco 2015
Ca’ del Baio “Vallegrande” Barbaresco 2016
Mascarello “Monprivato” Barolo 2010
Another angle: in visiting Etna last September, we had fresh Etna porcini paired with an Etna Rosso that was one of the best culinary experiences I’ve had in recent memory. Again, with the fresh mountain porcini, the dish was lighter, more elegant, and paired perfectly with the Nerello Mascalese. Our wines from Calabretta are simply the best we’ve ever had. The Pinot Nero from Calabretta would also be a great choice.
Nathan Woodhouse, Home Cook