Friday, October 20, 2017

Pappardelle ai Funghi Porcini e Tartufata Bianca

Wild mushrooms are considered a true delicacy in Italy and the Porcini reigns supreme during Autumn's much anticipated mushroom season. Famous for its meaty texture and rich earthy nutty flavour, Porcini work well in stews, sauces and most notably in mushroom risotto or pasta ai funghi. The season varies a little from year to year depending on the weather and the region of Italy, however mid September to late October is prime Porcini mushroom season in Tuscany, Umbria and Emilia-Romagna. Traditionally found at the foot of chestnut and pine trees, mushroom hunting is a favourite pastime for locals during the season who either pick them for themselves, sell them to markets or directly to restaurants who feature them prominently on their Autumn menus. Driving back from Perugia one afternoon, we picked up a crate of fresh porcini from a local farmer selling them on the side of the road and proudly brought them back to our villa to be used in countless dishes over the week, including this delicious Pappardelle ai Funghi Porcini. An explosion of scents and flavours, I enhanced the pappardelle with a prized jar of Tartufato Bianco, made with mushrooms, cream and white truffles. A sensational ready-made sauce that we found at our favourite Coop super-mercato in Orvieto, it was so delicious that I packed half a dozen jars to bring home at the end of the month.

The fabulous Antica Bottaga Toscana in Arezzo

With the very best quality dried pasta, pecorino, breads and salumi, 
we always make sure to stop by this shop in Arezzo for as much as we can carry

Tartufata Bianca

Our mushroom guy selling crates of fresh porcini mushrooms each day 
on the Strada Regionale near Pietraia in Umbria, which is where we bought 3 kilos of the beauties

Pappardelle ai Funghi Porcini e Tartufata Bianca
Serves 4

1/2 lb fresh porcini mushrooms
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 oz Tartufato Bianco
1/2 cup pasta cooking water
1 lb good quality dried pappardelle 
2 cups grated pecorino

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Using a pastry brush or paper towel, carefully dust the fresh porcini free of all dirt, then thinly slice and set aside. In a medium size sauté pan, heat the olive oil. When hot, add the sliced mushrooms and season to taste with Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté until the mushrooms are a rich golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. Cook the pasta until it's tender yet al dente, then deglaze the sauté pan with white wine. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Place the drained pasta in the sauté pan with the porcini and add half of the reserved pasta water, or as needed. Toss the pasta with the cooked porcini, and heat for about 30 seconds, then add all of the tartufato bianco and mix well to combine. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and add a handful of the grated pecorino, mixing gently to combine. Serve the pasta in warmed bowls with some extra grated pecorino on the side for guests to serve themselves as desired.

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