Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wild Mushroom Pasta

I'm sure by now you've all heard about the shocking shut-down of Gourmet Magazine by Conde' Nast on Monday. The New York Times broke the news Monday morning around 10
right when I was getting out of a meeting. I glanced at my google reader, and had to stifle a sob. Then I watched as Twitter reverberated with cries and sighs and "oh, no!"s, and my heart broke into little bits with each friend's discovery of and reaction to the news. So many in the food world-especially those of us here on the fringes-looked forward to each new issue for inspiration, reliable recipes and beautiful images.
(That's not to say everyone is upset about this. There are those who believe that print media is dead, and we should all move on, and whatever, Gourmet was elitist and irrelevant and too stuffy anyway. If you are one of those people, I'd like to point you to this fine obituary by Alex Van Buren of Salon, in which she points out that Gourmet was for the young and scrappy, too.)
In order to "get some positive energy flowing," Julie from A Mingling of Tastes has proposed that we cook a favorite recipe from Gourmet by next Thursday, October 15th. Since I have too many favorites from Gourmet (do you hear me, Conde Nast?), I decided to cook something new.
I also wanted to use the gorgeous hen-of-the-woods mushroom I picked up at the farmer's market on Tuesday, so last night we made this Wild Mushroom Pasta from the September 2006 issue. I thought that the recipe was spot on, as reliable as I have come to expect from Gourmet (are you LISTENING, Conde Nast?). I would never have thought to add lemon to mushrooms, but it elevates the woodsy flavors like you wouldn't believe.

Wild Mushroom Pasta
adapted from Gourmet, September 2006
You could certainly use a blend of wild mushrooms as the original recipe suggests, but I made a lot of adjustments from the based on the mushrooms I had available. I puchased a small container of fresh shitake mushrooms at the grocery store to supplement the hen-of-the-woods I got at the farmer's market, but crimini (baby bella) would be great if that's what you have. I would avoid regular old white button mushroms here, they just don't pack the necessary punch.
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms (could also use morel)
1 3/4 cups boiling-hot water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 oz fresh shitake mushrooms, stems trimmed off, caps sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 lb fresh hen-of-the-woods (maitake) mushrooms, thoroughly and chopped into pieces roughly 1/4 inch thick
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 lb spaghetti, fettucini, or other long pasta
1-3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (use the larger amount if you like chives, I only had a tablespoon or so around and could still taste them)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Boil 1 3/4 cup of water in a small pot, and add dried mushrooms. Let sit until softened, at least 20 minutes. Drain the now-softened mushrooms through a sieve lined with a coffee filter or paper towel, reserving the filtered liquid. Rinse, dry, and finely chop the reconstituted mushrooms.
(Efficiency alert! Start a pot of water boiling for the pasta. If using fresh pasta, don't cook it until the mushrooms are done and you've taken them off the heat, because it only takes a minute, but if using dried, it will take about 10 minutes and you want to get it in there sometime while the fresh mushrooms are browning)
Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté fresh mushrooms, garlic, salt, and pepper, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and mushrooms are browned, 8-10 minutes. (Original recipe says 5-7 minutes but I found it took a bit longer for the mushroom liquid to evaporate.. Stir in chopped soaked mushrooms and reserved mushroom-soaking liquid and simmer 1 minute, then remove from heat. Doesn't it smell woodsy and wonderful in your kitchen right now?
Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, timing will depend on the size and shape of your pasta. Using tongs or a large slotted spoon, remove pasta from water and add it to mushrooms in skillet. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook over moderately high heat, tossing and adding some pasta-cooking liquid if necessary to lightly coat, 1 minute. Add chives, lemon zest, and juice, then toss well. Serve immediately with cheese and pepper to taste.


  1. I really love pasta with wild mushrooms (or risotto or really anything with them, who am I kidding?!). I bet this dish is amazing. I thought about getting mushrooms at the farmers market on Tuesday but they were $16 or $20 a pound. Does that sound right? I couldn't bring myself to do it. :(

  2. Lovely! I just love those mushrooms. I guess half a pound wouldn't cost too much, even at $23/which is what I saw them for. I definitely plan on exploring the Gourmet archives and making new-to-me dishes as well as the old favorites. We're actually dreaming up a monthly event...

  3. Elina - I thought they were worth it, for sure. The guys from Keown orchards (they set up at Dewey Square Tuesday and Thursday and said they'd have hen-of-the-woods through the end of Octobe or so) are charging $1.25/oz. I only spent $10 on my half pound of mushrooms, and you could always get a smaller amount and boost the amount of the less expensive grocery store mushrooms!

    Maggie - I know, I'm on the list! I saw Olga's initial tweet and got all excited about it :)

  4. I heart mushroom pasta of any stripe, and this sounds really delicious. I was at the ENT yesterday and he had years worth of old Gourmets. They made me not even care about the hour he kept me waiting. Silly silly Conde... And now they're cutting their webstaff? Yeah, that's gonna work out well for them. siiiiiiigh.

  5. Mushroom are just the best. I recently discovered the perfection of hen of the woods though and I am quite jealous that you got to eat such a perfect delicious dinner. I must get my hands on some hen of the woods one of these days.

  6. Beautiful dish! I'm jealous that you found such yummy shrooms! Thanks for getting your post up so early!

  7. Hi HOney,

    The dish looks great, especially with that tablecloth...what an eye you have for the photography my dear, nice job :)


  8. PSYCH! It's totally a napkin. Thanks, Mom :)

  9. Ciao Adrienne! I adore mushrooms & put them in everything possible (esp.pasta) looks dee-lish!

  10. This looks delicious. I need to find a farmer's market with mushrooms that my schedule will allow me to attend. I hear there's a forager who sometimes shows up at Central Square on Mondays... I should investigate.

  11. This looks so delicious!

    I, too, was shocked and saddened by the news of Gourmet's demise. It wasn't my favorite of the food rags, but I really enjoyed it and read it religiously. Too sad :(

  12. oh wow, this looks delicious, and another winner from gourmet! so sad...

  13. Nothing better than wild mushrooms- and their varied woodsy flavors would stand out with this simple pasta dish too. Gourmet will be greatly missed! And someone was thinking of me when they invented this recipe. Many thanks for posting it with great photos.