Straccetti con Speck e Porcini

Porcini Mushrooms are a “Northern Hemisphere” delicacy that can be purchased fresh from mid Autumn until mid Winter, depending on temperature and rain precipitation. These Fungi should preferably be eaten fresh, but given the limited time they can be sourced through the year, it is very convenient to purchased them dried which makes for easier storage and convenience of use.

Needless to say, if you know mushrooms there is no comparison between the fresh Porcini and the Dried ones, however if we exclude recipes that call for raw mushrooms like salads and carpaccio, both version are totally interchangeable. Whenever you find a recipe that calls for fresh ones but you only have dried ones in your pantry, just keep in mind to double check the weight factor since dried “shrooms” are much lighter because they do not have water in them; as a rule of thumb, when replacing fresh with dried mushrooms I use about 1/2 of the weight. Before cooking in fact you will have to soak the Porcini in a cup of warm water to re-hydrate them.

In Tuscany it is a tradition to go look for Porcini in the woods, usually a couple of days after a rainstorm. Since they cannot be farmed but only harvested in the wild, you can imagine how secretive people can be about where they go look for this delicacy in the wild. If one day your Italian Father-In-Law tells you “Let’s go find some Porcini in the wild!”, you will have to pause and ask yourself: “Does he like me or not?”. If he dose, you are in for a great experience, if he doesn’t he is probably planning in getting you lost in the woods! Bring a Compass with you!

INGREDIENTI

Prep Time: 8 mins/ Cook Time: 15 mins/ Serves: 4-6

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, sliced into chunks
4 ounces speck, diced into cubes (sliced 1/8-inch-thick)
6 sprigs Nipitella, leaves removed from stem
1 pound porcini mushrooms, well cleaned, sliced into thin strips (or 1/2lb Dry Porcini)
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 pound fresh straccetti
Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish
1

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add the shallot and garlic, and sauté until just tender.

2

Stir in the speck and nipitella, and cook until the speck is golden and crisp, another 4 minutes.

3

Stir in the mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes.

4

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain well. In Italy this sauce is traditionally served on fresh hand made pasta, but any other dry pasta (possibly artisanal) will work very well.

5

Toss the pasta through the sauce, sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan and toss.

NOTES: Wipe the mushrooms clean with paper towels to remove any dirt. Trim any discoloration from stems with paring knife. You can use thyme if you can’t source nipetella.