I love making pasta dishes because simplicity is usually the way to go. This is a simple but surprisingly incredible pasta dish, just a few ingredients and although the cooking times might seem a bit extensive, it takes about as much time as making bolognese pasta. In any case, if you’re interested in simple cooking and umami explosions, please read on.
Mushrooms don’t need a lot of help to shine. Their flavor can be incredible when well exploited. I love cooking them but I’m not a big fan of eating them raw though. The texture is great but the taste is bland in my opinion and I always find my self, searing them on a hot skillet or over a grill to develop some flavor and then cooking them for a bit to reduce that water content. I figured I would simplify my mushroom pasta go-to recipe to its most basic form and highlight the main ingredient. Hence, this recipe has actually 3 or so ingredients.
If you like mushrooms and have tried a bunch of different ones you probably would agree that white mushrooms are not the most exciting of the bunch. Well… at least that’s kind of what I thought before trying this w approach explained here on this recipe. Every time I cook something I learn something new or reinforce something I have learned. I should have never blamed white mushrooms for not being interesting because they are and is just my ignorance getting in the way as usual. What can I say, I fell in love with white mushrooms all over again and would actually argue that I prefer them over shiitakes or even portobellos. Another great thing about white mushrooms is the cost. They are the cheapest at least where I live, so I bought 2 pounds of fresh and beautiful white mushrooms and headed back to my kitchen.
How to extract flavor.
If you’ve made your own stocks at home you know that simmering any ingredient in water for a long period of time will extract its flavor. I love pressure cooking and making stocks this way, especially vegetable stocks. It’s a lot faster. It also helps preserve flavor since there’s less evaporation of water in the process. Your house might not be as perfumed by what’s happening in the kitchen but that means the flavor is kept where it belongs. It that pot.
2 pounds of white mushrooms
about 6 cups of water
1 Tsp of kosher salt, more to taste
250g long pasta (linguine is a good option)
2 Tbsp heavy cream
chopped green onions.
Making an only-mushroom stock.
Sometimes I blindly chop a bunch of veggies to add to my stock. Garlic is almost always an ingredient but for this recipe, I really wanted to keep it basic so I only used mushrooms and salt. I didn’t even bother chopping the mushrooms. There is no need really. Especially if pressure cooked. Mushrooms will release most of their flavor after roughly 2 hours of pressure cooking. It sounds like a long time to pressure cook something but I did some testing and 2 hours is pretty safe. One hour is definitely not enough. After 2 hours of pressure cooking, you will end up with a pretty rich and dark stock. I discarded the mushroom themselves but they could be reincorporated into the recipe. I would suggest pureeing them. They have zero-flavor left so they won’t be too exciting to eat whole. The stock, on the other hand, is incredible.
Flavor concentration by reduction.
Time to perfume the house. Nothing new here but it’s a crucial step. In order to get the flavor intensity I was after, I had to reduce about 6-8 cups of mushroom stock to roughly 2 which is a pretty standard thing to do but worth mentioning. One hour of reduction will get you there more or less. The stock at that point will turn more complex, very intense and be extremely dark. Awesome!
Pre-hydrating dry pasta.
I really wanted the pasta infused with mushroom flavor so I needed to cook the noodles in the reduced mushroom stock. I’ve written a few times about dry pasta reconstitution. It’s hard to sell this idea but I find it useful in a number of ways and it’s ideal for this recipe since I’m trying to cook pasta for 2 people in about 2 cups of stock. It really works beautifully. Simmer the pasta for about 6 mins or until almost al dente. Most of the stock should have been absorbed by the noodles by this time. If any left, strain and reserve the leftover mushroom stock for other purposes. You might need a little stock back to adjust the silkiness of the sauce towards the end. You can check out my cacio e peppe pasta post for more on pasta reconstitution.
The pasta would have worked without cream but I love cream and I love cream in mushroom sauces, probably one of the few ingredients that actually make a mushroom sauce a sauce. I finished the cooking of the noodles adding about 2 Tbsp of heavy cream over medium heat. Making sure the cream was reduced as well and coated the noodles nicely. Once the noodles are cooked in this rich sauce they will look amazing, very dark and sexy.
Finishing with chopped green onions.
I have to garnish pretty much everything I cook. I can’t help it. Green onions and mushrooms go really well together but so would parsley. Anyways, use the garnish of your choice keeping in mind that whatever you do, don’t overcomplicate it. The simple combination of mushrooms, pasta, and some cream is all that’s really needed here. So after some garnishing and roughly 3 hours of cooking, my favorite mushroom pasta recipe was finally done. Don’t get discouraged by the long cooking times. This is one of those recipes in which things can be done in stages and days in advance. You can pressure cook the stock for one hour one day…. do another hour the next day… do the reduction the day after. And when you’re good and ready, cook the noodles in 6 minutes and be done. It’ll be worth it.
What do you think about pressure cooking stocks? is this something you’d like to read more about? Please, let us know in the comment section! Bye Bye!
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Absolutely gorgeous pasta dish! Williams Sonoma actually sells a mushroom “finishing sauce” that I tried once and it actually provided a lot of good flavor. Typically I don’t buy bottled anything, but I do love mushroom flavor. I’ve never thought of making a mushroom stock!!!
Thank you Mimi! If you love mushroom flavor then you should try to make your own mushroom demi-glace which is kinda what this is. Cooking the noodles in that also added to the final flavor punch. I hope you try it. Let me know if you do! hope you have a great long weekend 🙂
This is pretty well the perfect post Paul. Delicious food and a decent bit of education for me and the masses too!
Love how the blog is looking.
Hey Conor! thank you! I really appreciate it! I’m still working on the look of the site and I’m glad you like it so far. It’s been a rough journey since I decided to go wordpress.org but I think it’s getting better now. Everything was so much easier when I was with wp.com. Good news… I haven’t deleted my whole site by mistake in over a month now 🙂
Hi Paul, I almost always use a pressure cooker to make stock, but haven’t tried mushrooms only yet. Looks like I should! I think you could get even more mushroom flavor into the pasta by soaking it in the stock instead of water. Thanks for the inspiration.
thanks Stefan! and yeah, soaking the pasta in the stock is definitely the way to maximize that mushroom punch. It just adds more time to the process but worth trying.
What a fabulous idea! Love the idea of pressure cooked stocks and would be very interested in other posts. Can’t wait to try this recipe. I already love my pressure cooker and this is bound to encourage me to try it in new ways. Thanks!
hi Pam! thank you so much for your beautiful comment! let me know if you have any recipes/techniques you wanna share related to pressure cooking. I love pressure cooking in general and will try to post more on the subject soon! 🙂