Wild Mushroom Pasta Sauce
For the first mushroom harvest of the season, we want to bask in the amazing flavor of freshly gathered Alaskan boletes. I cram an overabundance of mushrooms, more than is necessary, into a simply-seasoned sauce. Remember the 1 pound 10 ounce king bolete/porcino (Boletus edulis) Steve found in our front yard? When cleaned and trimmed, it weighed 1 1/2 pounds, just enough to make sauce for two hungry mushroom hunters, with a little leftover for breakfast. It was a first; I’ve never before made dinner from a single mushroom. The key to this dish is sautéing the mushrooms in batches; if you try to brown too many at one time, they’ll steam rather than brown. Because each batch of mushrooms is salted separately, be careful about how much salt you add at any one time or the finished dish may be too salty. Vegans should substitute olive oil for butter.
1 1/2 pounds cleaned and trimmed porcini or other wild mushrooms
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup diced onion, 1/2” dice
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp. minced rosemary
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
Cappellini or homemade tajarin pasta
Slice mushrooms into 1/4” slices. Reserve 4 perfect slices for garnishing finished dish. Cut remaining mushrooms into 3/4” pieces.
Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat in heavy sauté pan. Sauté one third of mushrooms, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, until they’re well-browned on both sides. If pan is too dry for mushrooms to properly brown, add butter and oil. Though you want mushrooms to caramelize, be careful they don’t burn; turn down heat if necessary. Remove well-browned mushrooms to bowl with slotted spoon and set aside. Add 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. olive oil to pan and repeat with another one third of mushrooms. Add remaining butter and olive oil and repeat with final one third of mushrooms.
In same pan, brown reserved 4 perfect slices on both sides, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, adding small amount of butter and olive oil if necessary. Remove from pan and set aside.
Sauté onions, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper and adding olive oil if necessary, in same pan until onions soften and turn golden. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in wine, bring to a boil, and cook until wine is reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir in rosemary and stock. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer slowly while pasta cooks.
Cook pasta in boiling salted water until it’s al dente. Drain pasta. Stir pasta and cooked mushrooms into simmering onion-stock mixture. Taste and add salt or freshly ground black pepper, as needed.
Serve immediately, garnished with whole mushroom slices.