It seems summer left and fall moved in with a vengeance here in Umbria. We went from sundresses to sweaters in just a few weeks so I am happily pulling out all my cooler weather recipes to celebrate the change of seasons. When I think of fall I think greens, pumpkin, chestnuts and mushrooms. Although we are not able to buy fresh porcini mushrooms as easily as our Tuscan neighbors can, I find frozen porcini are almost as good.
Porcini mushrooms have a very earthy, rich, meaty flavor that has them stand out above all other mushroom varieties in my opinion. If I am back in North America where porcini mushrooms are all but impossible to find, I mix in some re-hydrated dried porcini with my other fresh mushroom varieties for the intense porcini flavor and it really is a great substitute. For this dish if porcini mushrooms are impossible for you to find, I would suggest using either a wild mushroom blend, portobello, or cremini mushrooms.
The plain white button mushrooms would be my last choice. I tasted a delicious chestnut pasta dish (chestnut flour was used) recently that I thought would be wonderful topped with a creamy porcini sauce which evolved into this dish. I also added some sauteed frozen chopped chestnuts into this dish which enhanced the chestnut flavor and added texture. Chestnut flour and canned or frozen chestnuts can be found at many specialty stores.
Chestnut flour has an almost sweet and nutty flavor to it and it quite strong in flavor so a blend of flours works best when using it in many dishes. Although it is generally recommended that you do not add cheese to any pasta dish containing mushrooms, if you like cheese on your pasta I’d suggest either grated Parmesean or Grana Padano.
I used a pasta cutter created to make Abruzzi “pasta alla chitarra”, but you could cut your pasta into fettuccine or pappardelle with your regular pasta machine for this dish. I was surprised to find that you can actually buy this pasta cutter at Sur La Table now although it is a bit pricey unless you make your own pasta at home quite a bit. If you don’t want to fuss making your own pasta at home, buy a good brand of fresh fettuccine or pappardelle.
Rolling The Pasta ~ Notice The Brown Color From The Addition Of The Chestnut Flour
The Pasta Rolled And Ready To Cut Using The Chitarra
The Chitarra Cutter Has Two Sides Of Differing Widths To Cut The Pasta
A Delicious Bowl Of Chestnut Pasta With Creamy Porcini Sauce!
For The Chestnut Pasta:
- 200 Grams (7 Ounces) Chestnut Flour
- 300 Grams (10.5 Ounces) All-Purpose Flour (Plus Additional For Kneading & Rolling)
- 5 Large Eggs
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
For The Sauce:
- 10 Ounces Fresh Mushrooms, Cleaned And Chopped (See Note Above)
- 1 Ounce Dried Porcini (If Not Using Fresh or Frozen Porcini Above)
- 1/2 Cup Peeled, Chopped Chestnuts (Frozen or Canned)
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
- 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
- 1 1/4 Cups Heavy Cream
- 1/4 Cup Fresh, Chopped Parsley
- Cracked Black Pepper & Sea Salt
- To make the pasta, place the flours and salt in a mound and create a well in the center.
- Add the oil, and begin to break the eggs into the well using a fork to mix the eggs into the flour.
- Continue to mix the eggs and flour until the mixture comes together as a dough. Begin to knead the dough with your hands adding a little additional all-purpose flour if needed to prevent sticking.
- Knead for about 4 to 5 minutes or until your dough is smooth.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Using a pasta roller, break off about one third of the dough and after dusting it with flour begin to pass it through the widest setting. Continue to dust with flour and pass through the rollers, decreasing the width (increasing the numbers) until number 4 or 5 on your pasta machine.
- At this point you can either cut it by hand, or use an attachment for your pasta machine. Lightly dust the cut pasta and let it rest on clean towels until needed.
- For the sauce, if you are not using fresh or frozen porcini, re-hydrate your dried porcini in warm water until soft, about 15 minutes.
- Drain and chop the mushrooms finely. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and add the fresh chopped mushrooms and chestnuts and cook over medium heat until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
- Add the re-hydrated mushrooms at this point if using them as well as the garlic. Cook an additional couple of minutes. Add the wine and cook until it has almost completely evaporated and then add the cream.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta until it is "al dente". The cooking time will depend on how long the pasta was left to rest, but fresh pasta generally only takes a few minutes to cook.
- Drain the pasta retaining a little cup of pasta water. Add half the sauce to the pasta in the pot with half the fresh parsley, and toss to coat the pasta well adding a little of the pasta water if the sauce seems too thick.
- Serve the pasta in individual bowl with an additional scoop of the sauce and a sprinkle of chopped parsley on each.