If you’re one of those people who dislike mushrooms, you should just move on now. There’s nothing for you today. Check back tomorrow.
Today’s post is the last of the recipes inspired by our recent trip to New York City — at least until we can figure out how to make broccoli dogs — and it’s really easy. But, it does involve mushrooms, a lot of mushrooms; hence, the admonition above.
This is also a dish that we had at Mercato for dinner one night and thought it was delicious. Simple, but delicious. So simple that we pretty much knew from the get-go how to make it. We just saved it for an evening when we were rushed, because, not only is it simple, it’s fast. Sound good? Let’s scratch up a batch of Fettuccine ai Funghi.
This is a recipe for which you should really consider making fresh pasta. It’s not hard, and, in fact, we often make it when we know we’ll be rushed: we make the dough and shape it early in the day, knowing that it’ll cook up at dinner in under 5 minutes, making it a time saver. But, even more important is the choice of olive oil. You’ll be finishing this dish with olive oil, so it needs to be an olive oil that has flavor, and a flavor that you like. We use olive oil from a somewhat local mill: Queen Creek Olive Mill, but, again, use what you like. For the cheese, we do not recommend fake Parmesan, such as the stuff full of sawdust in the green shaker can; instead, get a chunk of real Parmesan-Reggiano, and grate it yourself, or do as we do, and buy the less expensive, but still good, Grana Padano.
Procedure in detail:
Infuse oil. Instead of cooking the garlic, we want to start by infusing the oil with a garlic flavor. To do so, place the oil, garlic, red pepper flake in a large skillet — everything, including the pasta will end up in the skillet — and turn the heat to low. Very low. After a minute or two, you’ll see small bubbles forming around the garlic. Once bubbling, let the garlic simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring and watching closely so the garlic doesn’t start to brown, or, worse yet, burn. If the garlic is beginning to brown, simply remove the pan from the heat and let the flavors infuse for the remaining time.
Sear mushrooms. Increase the heat to medium-high. The garlic will really start to bubble and cook now. Once hot, add about half the mushrooms and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Try to get the mushrooms in a single layer and let them sear for about 3 minutes. Stir, trying to flip the mushrooms, and let the other side sear for another 3 minutes. Move the mushrooms to one side of the pan, and repeat, as best you can, with the remaining mushrooms.
Add wine and hold. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the wine, if using. If you’re not using wine, add a bit of stock, or water. Basically just something to keep the mushrooms from sticking all over the place while you make the pasta. Stir occasionally while keeping the mushrooms warm.
Boil pasta. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and boil according to the instructions. If using fresh pasta, realize that the pasta will cook rapidly, so taste test after a few minutes. Once done to the al dente stage — slightly chewy in the center, not crunchy — scoop out about 1/2 cup of pasta water, and drain the pasta thoroughly.
Stir in pasta. Add the drained pasta to the mushrooms and stir until coated. Add about 1/4 cup of pasta water, stir and simmer until almost all evaporates. If your pasta dries out too much before you’re ready to serve, add a bit more of the miracle liquid: pasta water.
Serve. Divide into heated bowls and top with grated cheese, followed by a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Use about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil, or to taste.
This was almost exactly like the dish we had at Mercato. The only difference we noticed was that their fettuccine was slightly wider, and the mushrooms might have been seared over a higher heat. That’s to be expected in a restaurant with a commercial stove. Other than that, it was the same. So, if you’re looking for a tasty, easy dish, just like you’ll find in a New York City restaurant, we suggest this might be the one. Five easy stars.