Bucatini is one of my favorite pasta shapes. I rarely cook it though, even before I became a vegan. It’s too chewy for my wife. Now that I am a vegan, I don’t eat it often either. The penultimate role for bucatini in life is in “Bucatini All’Amatriciana“. And since I have cut back significantly on my consumption of Guanciale and Pecorino, there are few occasions to enjoy this pasta’s marvelous, mouth-filling qualities. Fortunately, tonight was one of those occasions.
Since Barbara had to rush off after an early supper of leftover cabbage soup, I was able to cook just for me. As usual, the menu was ingredient driven. A few days earlier I saw some lovely-looking chanterelles at our local farm stand, so that provided the impetus. Until I learned how to cook chanterelles a few years ago, I was often disappointed with the texture. Once I learned the technique, it became a mainstay when they are available in the Fall.
- first, trim off any bad spots on the mushrooms, then cut large pieces into bite-sized slices, leaving small pieces whole
- saute the mushrooms in olive oil or butter, until just barely tender
- add stock (we use homemade roasted vegetable stock, although tonight I cheated by skimming off about one cup of broth from the cabbage soup)
- cook on medium heat until the liquid is gone; add a little water and continue, if the mushrooms are still tough
- when the liquid is gone, add about 1/2 cup of white wine, and boil that off
- add salt and pepper to taste, plus any chopped herbs you fancy (tonight I picked some lemon thyme, oregano, rosemary and parsley from the garden)
While the mushrooms are cooking, boil the bucatini in lots of salted water, until al dente — perhaps 15 minutes or more. Pick out a strand and taste — it’s the only way I know to be sure about doneness. Reserve about a cup of the pasta water, then drain the bucatini. Reheat the mushrooms, add the pasta water, and the pasta. Heat until all is well-coated and the texture of the pasta is tender enough, but not flabby.
If you wish, add hot pepper. I cut up some tiny Calabrian hot peppers and mixed them in. For the wine, I was so happy to have received some of the Polvanera Aglianico recently, from Jan’s first shipment into the U.S. last month, via Acker, Merrall & Condit in NYC. I also used some of the Sicilian olive oil I bought at Di Palo’s in NY recently, from Trapani.
This Aglianico is silky-smooth, balanced and delicious. One of the best I have had. Here are the Calabrian peppers, cut up, de-seeded, and shown red-on-red cutting board.
Interestingly, all that meaty flavor in the dish was created by 0.14 lbs., or 2.2 oz. of mushrooms. It’s a good thing it takes so little; as you see, the good ones are $40/lb. Anyway, after the pasta I felt a need for some vegetables, so I took out the mesclun from the farmers’ market, put it in a large bowl, added salt & pepper, Trapanesi olive oil, a little champagne vinegar, mixed it together, and put it back in my pasta bowl to eat.
Another observation: pasta served in a large bowl can be much more appealing as a main course, vs. a smaller bowl. Here is the visual comparison between our normal pasta/soup bowl and the big one from Crate and Barrel.
Now, if you could only take care of my dirty dishes….