Thursday, November 19, 2009

Porcini Pappardelle

It started with a bag of dried porcini. I was shopping at Andronico’s and it just hopped into my basket. Pancetta seemed like the next, logical step. And a quick Google search of the two ingredients led me here. Dinner was decided.

This is the kind of dish that is mostly shopping and assembly — something simple enough to toss together after a long day at work, but special enough to serve to company. Maybe it’s the Californian in me, but when I get really good ingredients, I just try and stay out of their way. I’m sure David Chang would accuse me of putting a fig on a plate.

I made one small substitution. The fresh pappardelle at A. G. Ferrari looked too good to pass up. I can never resist a wide noodle. Actually, I can’t resist most noodles, period. I think the pappardelle worked well here; it really soaked up the luscious mushroom liquid in a way that fettucine wouldn’t have. Each noodle was infused with woody, earthy porcini and coated in a shiny slick of barely-cooked egg. All that, plus bacon too? Seriously, what are you waiting for?

Porcini Pappardelle (adapted from the New York Times via Smitten Kitchen)
Serves 2

1 oz of dried porcini
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1½ oz of diced pancetta
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
½ pound fresh pappardelle
2 eggs at room temperature, beaten
Handful of parsley, chopped (Note: I used curly because that's what my corner market stocks, Italian, aka flat-leaf parsley is preferable)
Grated parmesan and crushed red pepper for serving
Salt to taste

1. Soak porcini in about a cup of warm water for half an hour. Drain through a fine strainer, making sure to reserve the soaking liquid. Dry the porcini well and cut any large pieces in half.

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and brown the pancetta for about 2-3 minutes. Add the sliced garlic and cook for a minute longer. Add porcini and cook until heated through.

3. Cook pasta according to package instructions (about 2-3 minutes for fresh pasta). When pasta is cooked, transfer to the skillet and mix well with the other ingredients. Add reserved mushroom liquid while stirring the pasta, making sure it is well incorporated. The pappardelle will drink the liquid in, turning a subtle shade of brown. Add the chopped parsley and mix well.

4. Turn off the heat. Then, quickly, so the egg doesn't scramble, toss the beaten eggs into the pasta and mix well. I noticed that it was helpful to toss in such a way that the eggs did not make direct contact with the hot pan. To be extra safe, you could probably remove the pasta from the pan and toss everything in a large serving bowl. Serve immediately, with grated parmesan on top.

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