THE ART OF ITALIAN DINING
In Italy, fall is a synonym for fresh mushrooms and truffles. In the forest, under the falling leaves, the best mushrooms – usually Porcini mushrooms, the
ones that we can find dried in North America – are waiting to be picked and eaten.
A made this pasta last weekend for our monthly CULINARY MISCHiEF and to use my client’s words, people were having ‘Food Orgasms’. In reality, like everything i make, this is a simple meal. A basic no-nonsense dish that can be whipped up in 20 minutes or less and it is best eten with good friends around the same table and a bottle of good Barbera.
This pasta recipe is one of my all time favorites. In different regions of Italy you will see it made with heavy cream or tomato sauce but I prefer the in bianco version i.e. just an olive oil base. The mushrooms in the sauce are so flavourful that you don’t need anything else to confuse the taste. I do add a hint of truffle oil to complement the porcini mushrooms. The name Boscaiola means “of the forest.” Since us Tuscans make an autumn ritual of gathering mushrooms in the forest, and produce some of the best truffles on the planet, there couldn’t be a more quintessentially Tuscan dish than this.
The key to this dish’s success is to treat the mushrooms with a tad bit more care than usual. Clean them with paper towels or brush the dirt off but never wash them under the water as they absorb liquids and only cook them until they are tender and just ready to burst. If they release too much water, they’ll be dry.
Serve the delicious and hearty sauce on handmade tagliatelle or pappardelle or just boil some water and cook up some Rigatoni (the “riga in “rigatoni” means “stripe.” It is those stripes and rigatoni’s wide, hollow shape that make them perfect for a chunky sauce like this one.)
This feast worthy of a hunter takes simplicity to whole new heights.
Buon Appetito, Amici!
RIGATONI ALLA BOSCAIOLA
1. Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in the hot water for 20 minutes.
2. Drain and reserve the water and chop the porcini mushrooms.
3. Heat the oil in a pan at medium.
4. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender, about 7-10 minutes.
5. Add shallots, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, tomato paste salt and pepper and saute for 3 minutes. Add some olive oil if needed (remember this is a white sauce, olive oil based)
6. Add the reserved water and simmer at medium-high until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
7. Meanwhile cook the pasta as directed on the package.
8. Add the cream (optional) and simmer until it thickens, about 2 minutes.
9. Remove from heat and mix in the black truffle oil. When pasta is cooked strain and add to the pan with two tablespoons of cooking water.
10. Optionally garnished with black truffles. Add the chopped parsley and Parmigiano Reggiano.