Wild Mushroom Medley (sauce for pasta)
Mushrooms can be in any combination of wild that you like—for our up-coming Wednesday dinner party for 8 persons, I’ll use 3-4 kinds: hen-of-the-wood, chanterelle, shitake, and possibly something else—basically whatever I find at the market, more than 1/4 and less than a 1/2 lb of each. I love to make things complicated. I really judge by eye. Use the amounts you want!
You can use just two, if your pocketbook can’t handle the cost of the 3rd. Or if you can’t find a third or fourth available, you can even use dried porcini mushrooms. Soak them in boiling water and then discard the water when softened. Add a tiny bit of fresh water—say 1/8 of a cup, and retain it.
Regular champignon and baby portabellas may be used in combination with the dried porcini, but the flavor with the fresh wild ones is incredible by comparison—especially if they are fresh porcini! (In which case you wouldn’t need to use the other mushrooms, unless it’s an “old impress-the-company” kind of dinner party because they’re all big wigs. Or it’s a really a business meeting, dinner a disguise to make things pleasant and your husband asked you too. Yes, this is exactly the case…and No, they don’t read my blog!
For the sauce:
Garlic or garlic scapes
1 small sweet chopped fine or minced onion or a fistful of scallions, sliced paper thin (save the green tops for serving along with chopped parsley)
2-3 lbs of wild mushrooms—I will use at least 3, and perhaps a smattering more.
½ lb of lean cut or mid-section bacon, cut into small pieces
2 cups of heavy, heart-stopping, artery clogging whipped cream…for you airy
fairies who think you’re going to live till 110 years of age, use half and half—
what a cheat on flavor and texture, but, hey, it’s your choice.
1 cup of chopped parsley
Hot cayenne pepper, for those who desire it
Black coarse ground pepper to top the pasta as you serve it!
3-4 tablespoons of fresh grated Parmigiano
In a huge, as in super big skillet with high sides, because you will pour the pasta into this! heat the olive oil and butter, garlic scapes and/or garlic flecks, bacon and onions on a high flame and cook till the bacon is as you desire it—I like it just about crispy. Fling in the cut up mushrooms—don’t make these so tiny that you don’t recognize them as mushrooms.
Keep the flame high, and when these are wilted, irrigate with a lovely white wine…never use crappola wines—remember this is going into your digestive tract. When the alcohol burns off, keep stirring and add the cream. Stir until thickened. Add salt, if desired—I don’t do this, depending on the bacon to do it for me—and the paprika and pepper. Lower flame.
When the pasta is cooked, drain tightly and empty it into the sauce. Stir. Add the parmigiano and stir some more. Don’t overdo the cheese. It’s only to amalgamate the pasta (in this case
1 & 1/2 lbs. of penne) Serve each plate with a smattering of the parsley and the thinly sliced green scallion tops. Sever to mouth-watering executives, who have probably starved themselves all day, not realizing that they will not be able to eat as much!
One more tiny little killer detail. If you want to make this a mouth-watering, memorable experience that lasts forever in the minds of the guests: add about 2 tablespoons of truffle oil just before serving the pasta, but don’t give away your secret…
Oh, a little aside. I’m serving a mixed zuppa of mussels and cockles for antipasto, a zucchini parmigaina and a huge salad for seconds, and for desert, pitted white-fleshed cherries (called Ravenna in Italy, I don’t know the American equivalent, but have juist been informed that they are Mt. Ranier cherries by my frind Marni) that I have soaking in grappa. Would a broccoli quiche be overkill before the zuppa??? I’ll see what I have time for, and if I make it, will include the recipe here for all you of those of you who cook with what the Dali Lama calls, “reckless abandon.”