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 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 read on.
Mushrooms don’t need a lot of help to shine. Their flavour 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 flavour 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 flavour.
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, specially 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 flavour is kept where it belongs. It that pot.
Making an only-mushroom stock.
Sometimes I blindly chop a bunch of veggies to add to my stock. Garlic is almost always an ingredient, etc, 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. Specially if pressure cooked. Mushrooms will release most of their flavour 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 in the other hand is incredible.
Flavour concentration by reduction.
Time to perfume the house. Nothing new here but it’s a crucial step. In order to get the flavour 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 flavour 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 makes 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.
- 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.
- Reconstitue the dry pasta in plain water until ready to cook it
- Make sure there's no grit on the mushrooms
- Place mushrooms, water and salt in a pressure cooker
- Cook for 2 hours at 15psi.
- Strain and discard the solids.
- Reduce the stock for 1 hour or until about 2 cups of stock are left
- Cook the pasta in the stock for about 6 mins of just before al dente
- If needed strain the pasta and return to a pot over medium heat, reserving the leftover stock
- Add the cream and about a Tbsp of leftover stock and cook until silky and creamy
- Serve and garnish with chopped green onions.
- Adjust the seasoning of the stock to your liking keeping in mind that the the stock will be reduced so don't add too much salt in the beginning. Before reduction, the stock should actually taste bland and as it reduces the saltiness level should taste better. Adjust when necessary. Happy stock making!
What do you think about pressure cooking stocks? is this something you’d like to read more bout? Please, let us know in the comment section! cheerios!