This is a Tuscan dish symbolic of the fall when fresh, foraged mushrooms fill the markets and families go out on the weekend expeditions to collect funghi.
The recipe changes from household to household, with mushrooms being the only steady ingredient. Sausage can be replaced with pancetta, or left out all together. Very often cream features in this favorite trattoria dish, but I prefer less cream (just a splash) and not too much Parmesan so you can benefit from the full flavor of wild mushrooms.
I suggest using any fresh, wild mushrooms, particularly porcini, chantarelles, and chiodini (honey) mushrooms. If you cannot get these, you can also use regular button mushrooms, Swiss browns, oyster mushrooms, or shimeji mushrooms (a mixture is always a good idea). If using just button mushrooms, you can add also some dried porcini mushrooms for extra flavor—place about 30 grams or 1 ounce of mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soften for about 15 minutes and add the mushrooms, along with their liquid, with the wine in the steps below.
You can make the sauce in advance in an airtight container in the refrigerator. In this case, reserving some of the cooking water is a very good idea. —Emiko
(approximately 250 grams) wild mushrooms (see note)
clove of garlic, peeled and slightly flattened with the side of a kitchen knife
Italian (ideally pork and fennel) sausage, about 180 grams or 6 ounces
(60 ml) dry white wine (or water)
good-quality olives (such as taggiasche olives)
(60 ml) heavy cream
(320 grams) short pasta, such as fusilli or penne
grated Parmesan cheese, if desired
In This Recipe
Trim the very end of the stems of the mushrooms. Clean the mushrooms using a damp paper towel on their caps and stems, if needed. If you're using very small mushrooms or chantarelles, leave them whole, but if using porcini or button mushrooms, slice them finely. If using dried porcini, let them steep for 15 minutes in freshly boiled water (see note). Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
Heat the olive oil in a pan over low heat and add the garlic clove. Allow the oil to infuse with the garlic, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes, but don't let it burn.
Peel the skin off sausage and crumble into the pan. Turn the heat up to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden on all sides.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and continue cooking over medium, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender.
Ideally you want to put the pasta in the water to boil around now—look at the pasta's package for the cooking time and take off 1 minute (you want it al dente, as it will continue to cook in the mushroom sauce).
Add the white wine or water (if using dried porcini, you can add them here, along with their liquid at this point) and continue simmering, allowing the alcohol to cook off for 5 minutes.
Add the olives, stir through the cream, and let cook 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat. If your timing is right, the pasta will be just about ready so keep the sauce warm by covering it with a lid.
Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup of the water, if needed, to help loosen the sauce. Add the pasta directly to the boscaiola sauce. Toss to coat evenly, then immediately distribute into shallow bowls and serve with some grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.