Mushroom Fettucine with Truffle Oil
I always have a few cans of sliced or whole button mushrooms in my pantry. They are handy for adding to the sort of dish you throw together in a hurry at the last minute but, in all honesty, they do not have the depth or richness of flavor of fresh mushrooms. They are, it must be said, pretty much an ingredient of last resort rather than a first choice in most cases.
Truffle Oil is also one of those ingredients that pales in comparison to the ‘real deal’. It does have the advantage of convenience, and is SO much cheaper than fresh truffle, but it needs to be employed prudently. One use where it is very effective is in boosting the limited flavor of canned mushrooms in order to make a cheap, but special tasting pasta dish.
Using Truffle Oil and Canned Mushrooms
Truffle Oil is a relatively cheap way to approximate the flavor of truffles in certain dishes. It began to get very popular a number of years ago and ended up being one of those fad ingredients that got horribly overused, both in terms of frequency and quantity. The fad seems to have passed, thankfully, but the oil is easy to abuse and can end up wrecking rather than enhancing a dish if you are not careful when, and how you use it.
One thing you should know is that truffle oil is almost always synthetic, even though many bottles will include a tiny piece of truffle to suggest you are getting the real thing. If you look carefully at the picture above, you can see a couple of dark fragments at the bottom of the oil I am using.
Notwithstanding the ‘chemical’ nature of most products (a substance called ‘2-4 dithiapentene’, is the chief truffle imitator), the flavor is pretty decent if you go easy. The problem is not so much that you get too potent a truffle taste, rather that you can, with some products, end up with a metallic aftertaste. The brand shown here is not bad, but I probably wouldn’t go much above the amount I used for the recipe below.
To get the best result from canned mushrooms, you need to fry them over moderately high heat and let them throw off almost all of their liquid. Once this is done, you stir and turn them from time to time and continue to cook them until they are getting nicely brown and just a bit crispy on the edges. It is the caramelization here that really adds to the overall flavor.
About halfway through this process you can add in the black pepper and the lemon juice, and, just when the mushrooms are done to your liking, add truffle oil for a final flavor boost.
For this recipe, I have also included some thinly sliced onion and garlic, and when the (almost) al dente pasta is drained and added to the pan, a quick ‘sauce’ is made by adding in freshly grated Pecorino-Roman along with a little of the pasta cooking water.
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Mushroom Fettucine with Truffle Oil
- 2 portions dried Fettucine or Linguini
- 2 small cans Sliced Button Mushrooms
- 1 small Onion sliced paper-thin
- 2 – 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp. Truffle Oil
- 3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
- 1/4 cup chopped Garlic
- 1 Tbsp. Butter.
- 1 Tbsp Freshly ground Black Pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh Parsley
- 1/3 Cup Pecorino-Romano freshly grated plus more for Service
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until it almost, but not quite, al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, sauté the Mushrooms at moderately high heat in Olive Oil until they begin to turn a golden brown and show a few crispy spots here and there.
- Add the Lemon juice to the pan and cook until this has been absorbed, then add the Black Pepper and the Onion, and saute until the Onion is translucent.
- When the pasta is done, drain it, but reserve a quarter cup or so of the cooking water.
- Add the Butter to the Mushrooms and enough extra Olive Oil to bring the total fat in the pan to about three tablespoons.
- Add the Garlic and saute quickly until it is softened, then throw in the pasta, the cheese and the reserved water.
- Toss and stir until a creamy sauce forms on the strands then stir in the parsley and plate for service.