Fresh Pasta - about 250g
Any shape will do, we like a long shape like Mafalde. You can certainly make this dish with dried pasta, but the texture of the mushrooms pairs best with a lighter fresh pasta as you would find it done in the region’s capital of Bologna.
Dried Borgotaro Porcini Mushrooms - about 50g
Borgotaro Porcini Mushrooms come from the Valtaro valley in Emilia Romagna in the dense forest of the Apennine where porcini have been hunted for centuries.
Parmigiano Reggiano - just a touch for seasoning
A strong encouragement to seek out Luciano Catellani’s Vacche Rosse Parmigiano, made from a breed of red cow native to the Emilia Romagna region. Luciano’s grass-fed cows, which number 150 graze his fields throughout Spring and Summer and are milked by hand by Luciano himself. They produce less milk, but live longer, healthier and happier lives for it, and you can taste the care and love and humanity in the cheese which is outstanding. A perfect companion to the mushrooms and hailing from the same lands, a little Parmigiano goes a long way, so opt for an ethically and expertly produced cheese and you will be rewarded.
Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil - to drizzle
Find a well-made Extra Virgin Olive Oil, hand harvested and cold pressed. Italians make great olive oil but so do the Spanish, Greeks, and Californians, just don’t compromise on quality.
Garlic, Parsley and Black Pepper - to taste
Season to your preference, if you love garlic but don't care for parsley load it up with alliums and be easy with the herb. Black pepper should be freshly ground.
Start by soaking the dried porcini in warm water for about 20 minutes until they rehydrate. Then drain them, but save with the utmost care that mushroom broth, which will taste like the forest floor and deepen the flavor of the dish.
While soaking the mushrooms you can slice, dice, or crush your garlic, chiffonade your parsley, and set your water to boil.
Attention should be paid to heat; your pot of water should be at full tilt, and once it is boiling you should salt it liberally. You want the water salty like the sea.
Your sauté pan should be over medium heat; in here you’ll start by sautéing your garlic until it is golden and fragrant, taking care not to burn it. Then you can add your porcini and toss until they’re coated with the olive oil and have seen some heat; season them with a bit of sea salt and rain in the parsley.
At the same time drop your pasta and stir, cooking until it is very al dente before transferring directly to your sauté pan to mantecare*.
*Forgive a brief digression: Pasta should always be cooked al dente! Cook time estimates on the packaging are mere guidelines (they are usually long) so trust your tooth! There is nothing sadder than overcooked pasta…very little anyway.
You may think you are wrong in pulling your ‘undercooked’ pasta from the water but fret not, you will finish cooking it directly in your sauce.
The Italians refer to this step with the verb mantecare, which means literally to whisk or mix, but in this sense it means that you are marrying your pasta to your sauce by finishing the cooking process of both, together. This ensures the pasta is ‘drinking up’ all of that flavor, is well coated with the sauce, and is also leaching some of its starch into the sauce which acts as a binding agent helping all become one cohesive flavor.
As the pasta and sauce become dry in the pan, feed it some of the Porcini liquid little by little to keep it hydrated and fortify the flavors.
When your pasta and sauce are one, and the pasta is perfectly al dente remove the pan from the heat and garnish with grated Parmigiano, freshly cracked black pepper, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately, disregarding any risk of burning your mouth as it is worth it.
Wine pairing: Pair with a nice Pinot Nero, or a Barbera d’Alba from Piedmont and enjoy it with your favorite people!