Monday, April 10, 2006

The Lady of Shallot: Mushroom and Shallot Pasta


Shallots are a royal pain in my ass. They're tiny little impertinent onion impersonators. Yes, they're sweet. Yes, they're tender. Yes, they're flavorful. But peeling and dicing ten little shallots seems like infinitely more work than one large sweet onion.

But when the lady at the farmers' market convinced me to buy a mix of gorgeous fresh mushrooms and described a pasta dish of mushroom and shallots sauted in butter, I was seduced. The next stall over sold shallots, a tiny box of ten perfect rose-gold skinned gems. I bit the bullet. And I'll grudgingly admit that it tasted pretty good.

***
Fancy Mushroom and Shallot Pasta


Start a large pot of water boiling for pasta. Meanwhile, peel and dice:
10 shallots

Melt in a wide skillet:
4 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil (to keep the butter from burning)

Saute the shallots in the butter over very low heat until soft and brown (about 15 minutes). Then increase the heat to medium high and add:
2-3 large handfuls of gourmet mushrooms (I used a mix of hen-of-the-woods, honey, enoki, button, chanterelle, and god knows what else the lady at the Dupont farmers' market gave me. As I type, there is no evidence that any of the mushrooms were hallucinogenic.)

Cook until the mushrooms are softening and starting to brown. They'll drink up a lot of the butter. Add more if you're worried about the pasta being dry. Take the mushrooms and shallots off the heat.

To the boiling water, add:
1 pound tagliatelle, linguine, papardelle, or other wide egg noodle

When the pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of cooking water and drain. Put mushrooms and shallots back on the heat and add the drained pasta. Stir to combine and add the reserved pasta water slowly to moisten. Sprinkle on:
Fresh cracked black pepper
Sea salt

Pass grated parmesan at the table.

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