This is possibly my most favorite pasta dish with one exception; home made tagliatelle in a light Alfredo sauce, smothered with freshly shaved white truffle… this was the signature dish at Cecconi’s, a wonderful Italian restaurant in London’s Mayfair, back in the 80’s. Cecconi’s is still there but I can’t vouch for the truffles.
Their tagliatelle was made in-house daily and it arrived piled high on a huge oval platter, closely followed by another waiter bearing a grater and a fresh white truffle the size of a man’s fist. Just when you thought he couldn’t possibly be any more generous, he kept on grating. I’ll never forget the heavenly aroma and still dream of it today.
Anyway – back down to earth where truffles of that intensity and magnitude are pretty rare nowadays; this dish combines wild and cultivated mushrooms, garlic, parsley and the very best Parmigiano Reggiano cheese – not quite in the truffle-realm but delicious nevertheless. And it’s drop-dead easy to prepare.
Dried porcini mushrooms are available in good supermarkets and Italian delicatessens. The garlic is meant to be a presence, so don’t cut back on it.
SPAGHETTI with MUSHROOMS, GARLIC & PARSLEY
1 oz (28g) of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup of hot water
8 oz (227g) of large fresh portabella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced, or your favorite wild mushrooms, such as ‘Hen of the Woods’, oyster mushrooms, etc
3-4 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
½ cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter
¼ cup of cream
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
8 oz (227g) of spaghetti, linguine, tagliatelle, or whatever you prefer
To serve; lots of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and extra minced parsley
Start by soaking the dried porcini in the hot water for 15 minutes, then drain, reserving the soaking liquid. Chop the porcini and add them back to their soaking liquid. Set aside.
In a wide pan, heat the olive oil and butter and sauté the crushed garlic and chopped parsley for a few minutes, until the garlic starts to turn golden.
Add the fresh mushrooms and sauté for a few more minutes.
Start cooking the pasta according to the instructions.
As soon as the mushrooms have softened, add the porcini and their soaking liquid and give everything a good grind of black pepper and sea salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer gently until there’s virtually no liquid left.
Pour in the cream and heat through gently, adjusting the salt and pepper to taste.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain quickly (never over-drain pasta) and tip it into the pan with the mushrooms. Gently combine everything and allow it to warm through for a minute or two.
Tip the lot onto a warmed serving plate or divide between individual bowls and sprinkle with a little more parsley – serve with plenty of grated or shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and some extra black pepper on the side.