Author Notes: I'm a California woman cooking in Montana. I use what I have, given the seasons. We're in one of the "shoulder" seasons right now. Tomatoes are done, though some green ones are still to be had. The winter squash are coming in, and heaven knows, pumpkins are everywhere. I went to culinary school with a woman who put pumpkin in everything she could catch. It still makes me shiver. But mushrooms in any form speak to me of fall.
I had 2 sources of inspiration for this: my Lost Shoes Risotto and Pierino’s pasta: http://www.food52.com/recipes/14018_tu_voi_fa_lamericano. For the former, a dream told me to soak dried porcini mushrooms in hot water to create the stock with which to make the risotto: http://www.food52.com/recipes/14680_lost_shoes_risotto. In the latter, pierino cooks his pasta in the same water in which he cooked his lobster, then adds a creamy sauce to it. It's such an ethereal step that for all I know, it came to him in a dream also.
Call it 2 1/2 sources. I also used a bit of Harold McGee’s less is more method of cooking the pasta: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/dining/25curi.html?pagewanted=all, though I don’t buy the cold start method, and don’t understand why he sticks to his story after Marcella Hazan and Lidia Bastianich gave it the cold shoulder. If those ladies told me how to comb my hair, I'd listen.
But I digress. Because of the relatively small amount of cooking liquid, a shaped pasta is going to work better than a long one. I used trottole (photo #2) because of all of its sauce-napping curls and folds, but use what you like.
To make it vegan, substitute olive oil for the butters, omit the cheese, and increase the stock. Cheers!
- 1 ounce dry porcini mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 4 cups boiling water
- 2 ounces butter
- White of 1 leek, split, washed, and 1/4” slice
- 2 cloves garlic from stock, minced
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 4 ounces white wine
- 4 ounces cream
- All of the mushroom stock
- 1/4 package of shaped pasta
- 1 ounce butter
- Sea or kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Pour 4 cups of boiled water over mushrooms and the smashed cloves of garlic in a glass or stainless bowl. Set a plate on top to trap the heat. Let sit for 30 minutes. The water will turn to a heady, deep brown stock redolent of the smoky mushrooms and the garlic.
- While mushrooms are soaking, pour a glass of wine or make a cup of tea. Sit down and enjoy a quiet half hour with the newspaper or a book. Promise me you won't turn on the TV.
- Set a strainer over a saucepan, and strain off the stock from the mushrooms. Remove the garlic cloves and mince them. Leave the stock in the saucepan. Roughly chop the mushrooms.
- Melt butter in a pan large enough to contain the sauce and cooked pasta. Add the leeks, garlic, and red pepper flakes and sauté until soft and fragrant. Add the mushrooms, then the white wine. When about two thirds of the wine has reduced away, add the cream. Reduce heat to a low simmer, and begin heating the mushroom stock to cook the pasta.
- When stock comes to a boil, add the pasta. Cover the pot and cook to more al than dente, probably a minute or two less than the suggested cook time on the package. With a spider or a slotted spoon, scoop pasta from the stock to the pan holding the sauce. Add the ounce of butter and the Parmesan cheese. Ladle in enough of the mushroom stock to loosen the sauce and allow it to nicely nap the pasta. While it’s cooking for a minute or two, season to taste with salt and pepper. You know how to dish it up. Revel in the fall-like color of the pasta and its rich, creamy goodness. Enjoy the fusion of food52.