Let's face it, some people can't handle the earthy aromatic meatiness of porcini mushrooms. It's an acquired taste for people who aren't used to their concentrated flavor. On my last day of vacation in Italy, as the cab driver was transporting me to the airport, I remember feeling so depressed as I saw each roadside produce stand from the backseat of the car. I remember seeing signs for Porcini non stop... I really covet fresh porcini, and I wish they were easily attainable here in Brooklyn. I'm not sure if I'll ever get the chance to even hold a white truffle, but I'll always consider porcini to be my indulgence. This dish is all about quality of ingredients. Use the best olive oil, and a fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, you cannot go wrong. I think the porcini really shine here. I kicked mine to another stratosphere by adding a slight drizzle of white truffle oil, but that's optional. —James Durazzo
Nests of dried Fettucine noodles
Dried Porcini mushrooms (Soak in warm water, reserve liquid)
Reserved strained soaking liquid from the porcini
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add enough salt to the water so that it tastes like the sea. This ensures that the pasta will not taste bland. In a small bowl, add the dried porcini, and cover with hot water. Once they're soft, remove them, squeeze out excess liquid in the same bowl, strain the liquid, and set aside. Chop the porcini, or leave them to your liking. I like to reserve a few for garnish on the side.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet, finely mince the shallot, and lightly sweat over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and a crack of black pepper. Add the porcini, and briefly sauté. Add 1 cup of the soaking liquid, and let reduce by half. This will be the base for the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add fresh rosemary, and set aside
Add the pasta to the boiling water, and cook until al dente. Heat the sauce on medium heat, and drain the pasta with a ladle directly into the sauce. Add a small ladle of the pasta water to thicken the sauce, and then add in the butter.
Remove from heat, add in the fresh parsley, truffle oil or extra virgin olive oil, and finish with a hefty grating of the cheese. I like to add the reserved porcini on top to garnish.