Monday, April 19, 2010

Linguini with shiitake, garlic, and thyme

A while back, my mission to eat at Babbo was fulfilled: I decided to walk-in on a Thursday night and was prepared to wait as long as it took to get a table. I was unbelievably lucky to be seated within 20 minutes. The Babbo experience was even more amazing than I had imagined. Sure there's no fancy plating or formal service (who wants that anyway), but the food is perfectly executed and delicious. My absolute favorite dish of the night was the Garganelli with Funghi Trifolati: porcini mushrooms prepared in olive oil, garlic, and parsley with a delicate homemade tubular pasta, tossed in a weightless butter and wine sauce and doused tableside with freshly grated aged goat cheese. It was simply amazing. I loved the way the intense mushroom and garlic flavors persisted in every bite.

Inspired by the dish I had at Babbo, I wanted to create a simple pasta dish highlighting the strong flavor of earthy mushrooms. I am not a big fan of parsley, so I used thyme instead. I prepared shiitake mushrooms with olive oil, garlic, shallot, and thyme and tossed it with linguine in a light cream and wine sauce. I topped it off with a healthy grating of fresh parmigiano reggiano (after taking a picture). The result was pretty darn delicious!

Linguini with shiitake, garlic, and thyme
1 shallot, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
6 oz shiitake mushrooms (or porcini if you can find them)
2 tsp fresh thyme (about 8-9 sprigs), minced (or parsley)
1 tbsp butter, unsalted
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 lb linguine or your choice of pasta

Boil water for pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Wash mushrooms thoroughly. Remove stems. Slice into 1/2" thick slices.

In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic, sauté for about 2 minutes until fragrant. Add mushrooms and thyme, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring continuously, until mushrooms are brown and tender, about 5-7 minutes.

Increase heat to high. Add wine and simmer for 3 minutes, until liquid is almost evaporated. Add heavy cream, simmer until sauce reduces to a consistency where it coats the back of a spoon. Add pasta, stir to coat well, cook about one minute to heat through. Add some of the reserved cooking water with pasta if necessary. Remove from heat and serve immediately with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.

Serves 4.

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