Monday, February 20, 2012

Wild Mushroom Spaghettini

Look at that mushroom. It's kind of terrifying looking. Only in the darkest, most remote forests would such a beastie push itself up out the peat; an evil stink blossom. Well, actually it's a black tumpet mushroom. The French call it une trompette de la mort - the trumpet of death.  I'm so drawn to these mushrooms because they are so inherently weird, dark and bit creepy. I envision witches mixing these into their bubbling cauldrons. Despite all that, in actuality, they are just a pigment-rich chanterelle. And they taste great. I usually have a jar of these lying around in their dry form. The other day I found them fresh - not a common discovery. I won't reveal where I found them, because I intend to go back and get more. Don't try to find them.

Anyway, what to do with them? My first thought was risotto. However, the family was in a pasta mood, so pasta it is. Here's what I did:

First, I got a pot of water on the boil, once going, I added in three-quarters or so of a box of spaghettini...and lots of salt. Pasta water should be as salty as the sea. Then  I took a good sized skillet and got some oil going in it. Then, I added half an onion, finely diced. Once they started to go slightly translucent I added in about three-quarters of a cup of roughly chopped black trumpets and a cup or so of sliced button mushrooms. I let that frizzle for a while. You'll find that wild mushrooms don't give up as much water as cultivated mushrooms, so this process won't take too long. Then I added in a minced clove of garlic. Then after a few minutes I deglazed with white vermouth. Follow this with some of the starchy pasta water, say maybe a good half a cup. Then whisk in a bit of Dijon mustard. This will emulsify a bit and thicken the sauce. Then add in a tablespoon or so of grated Parmesan. At this point, the pasta should be ready (if it's not, take the sauce off the heat until the pasta is done - you don't want to dry out the sauce). Drop all the pasta directly into the skillet and toss in the sauce till fully covered. Take the skillet off of the heat. Count to ten, then mix in one egg yolk (if you don't count to ten, the pasta will be too hot and the egg will scramble) Then add in a huge amount (and I mean huge amount) of chopped, fresh parsley. I would say a quarter of a cup. This freshness goes so well with the earthy mushrooms. Give it another minute or two just so everything gets acquainted. Then serve. I dropped a giant pile of pea shoots on top as a garnish along with some shaved Parmesan. I've never done that with the pea shoots before, but what a revelation! That note of fresh peas added such an amazing and surprising finishing note to this pasta. Bless the black trumpet - a supernaturally delicious ingredient.

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