Sometimes, all you have in the house are canned mushrooms. For most purposes, they are just not good as fresh ones but Truffle oil, which I just featured in my last Foodstuffs post, can improve them no end. I actually had fresh mushrooms in the fridge last night when I made dish you see above but I really wanted to showcase the Truffle oil as a follow up to the original Foodstuffs post.
In the left of the picture above is some fresh Pecorino-Romano. You can use the pre-grated super-market Parmesan if you wish, but it won’t have the same delicate creaminess. In the back row you see: Lemon juice, truffle oil, two small cans worth of sliced button mushrooms and Olive oil. In the middle is one-half a small onion sliced paper-thin and some chopped parsley and, in the front row, butter, freshly ground black pepper and about six cloves of garlic fairly coarsely chopped. That may look like a fair bit of pepper but it really works well with mushrooms (as does the garlic and lemon juice).
I haven’t shown the Linguini, but a decent amount for two people is two bunches each having a diameter of a twenty-five cent piece.
Put a big pot of water on to boil with several large pinches of salt and add the pasta. Turn the heat down a little so the water is just bubbling a bit and keep an eye on the pot. The pasta should be done around about the same time as your mushrooms are cooked.
Add about two or three tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan heated to medium and then add the mushrooms. Let them throw of their liquid and then stir and turn them from time to time. The trick here is to cook them until they are getting nicely brown and just a bit crispy on the edges as the caramelization really adds to the dish. About halfway through this process add in the black pepper and the lemon juice. Continue stirring until the juice has been absorbed and continue cooking a little longer. Just when the mushrooms are done to your liking, add a tablespoon of the truffle oil and the onion, then turn down the heat to low. Stir from time to time until the onions are translucent. At this point, you may want to take the pan off the heat if the pasta is not quite done.
When the pasta is al dente, draw off about ¼ cup of the water into a glass (as you can see in the picture) then drain the pasta completely. Put it into a bowl with the butter, another tablespoon of truffle oil, and a pinch of salt. Toss it and then add the parsley, reserving a few pinches for garnishing the plates, and grate over a good few tablespoons of cheese before tossing again.
Now put the mushrooms back on the burner (if you have removed it) and turn the heat up to medium. Add enough olive oil to bring the total in the pan to three tablespoons or so (the mushrooms will likely have absorbed a fair bit) and then add the garlic. You want to cook this only until it is just translucent so that it still has a bit of raw bite to it. As soon as this point is reached, throw in the pasta and continue to stir, allowing the strands to get coated with oil. Toss in half the reserved water, let it get absorbed and then repeat with the remainder. Stir a few moments longer and then plate. Grate over some more cheese, sprinkle on the reserved parsley and then serve. You can pass some extra cheese for grating at the table if you wish but you shouldn’t need much more.
This turned out nicely but the taste of the truffle oil was too muted. I was a little hesitant to use too much (as this is supposed to give a bit of a metallic taste) or to cook at it too high a heat lest it lose flavor. I think though, that next time I might add a bit more to the mushrooms when I add the onion, and perhaps a bit more to the bowl with the drained pasta.
My wife added some flakes of chili to her plate, as she often does with pasta, while I added extra salt. The dish is probably salty enough as is for most people (it was for my wife) but I like quite a bit of saltiness and don’t suggest adding any more than the pinch I added to the boiling water and the drained pasta.
Any suggestions for improvement, anyone?