Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fiori Pasta and Wild Mushroom Crème Gratin

     Wild Chanterelle, Portobello, Porcini, White Truffle Oil Flavored Pasta Gratin!
     Italian Fiori Pasta translates to "Flower Pasta."  Fiori Pasta looks nice in a baked casserole, especially when prepared as a French Gratin.
     The selection of mushrooms in today's recipe is a classic wild mushroom combination that many fine dining chefs have preferred during the last 30 years.  Chanterelles are prized for their woodsy aromatic flower flavor.  Portobello are Italian Brown Field Mushrooms and they add a rich mellow classic mushroom flavor.
     Porcini are Cep mushrooms that are harvested in a region of Italy that has terrain climate that causes an ordinary Cep to develop a unique flavor profile.  Porcini have a consistent deep rich flavor that is mellower than a strong tasting dark color Cep.
     A drizzle of White Truffle Oil adds a classic finishing touch.  White Truffle oil has a little bit lighter flavor than Black Truffle Oil.  Cheap brands of White Truffle Oil usually are not worth bothering with, because they lack flavor.  It is better to pay the higher price for strong tasting White Truffle Oil, because in the long run, money can be saved.  Just a few drops of high quality White Truffle Oil goes a very long way.
    Like with all infused flavored oils, Botulism is a concern.  This is especially true with mushroom flavored oils.  Open bottles of Truffle Oil must be kept in a refrigerator, to reduce the threat of pathogen contamination.  Small amounts can be warmed to room temperature as needed.

     It is difficult to categorize today's Pasta and Wild Mushroom Gratin.  This Gratin Casserole can be a classy fine dining café style entrée or it can classified as gourmet comfort food.  This Gratin Casserole can be served as a pasta course in a multi course meal or it can be served as a light entrée.  It can also be served as an accompanying side dish.
     No matter what, one thing is for sure.  The rich flavor of Fiori Pasta and Wild Mushroom Crème Gratin will satisfy guests to no end!
     Dried Wild Mushroom Preparation: 
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of water in a container.
     Add 1/4 cup of dried chanterelle mushrooms.
     Add 4 or 5 slices of dried porcini mushroom.
     Soak the mushrooms overnight in a refrigerator.
     Step 2:  Place the reconstituted mushrooms and the soaking liquid in a sauce pot over low heat.
     Gently simmer the mushrooms, till they become tender.
     Set the pot of mushrooms and poaching broth aside.

     Fiore Pasta: 
     Cook 1 portion of Fiori Pasta in boiling water over high heat till the pasta is al dente.
     Cool the pasta under cold running water.
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Set the pasta aside.
     Wild Mushroom Crème:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/4 cups.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot or sauteuse pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 thin sliced garlic clove.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 2 small portobello mushrooms that are thin sliced.
     Sauté till the sliced garlic turns a light golden color. and the mushrooms are tender.
     Step 2:  Add just enough flour to soak up the butter while stirring, to make a roux.  (About 1 tablespoon.)
     Cook and stir the roux for about 30 seconds.
     Step 3:  Pour the wild mushroom poaching liquid through a strainer into the sauce pot.
     Coarsely chop the chanterelle and porcini mushrooms.
     Add the chopped wild mushrooms to the sauce in the pan.
     Add 2 ounces of dry white wine.  (French White Burgundy Chardonnay is best for this recipe.)
     Step 4:  Bring the sauce to a gentle boil while stirring occasionally.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce till the sauce is thin consistency that can barely glaze a spoon.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 6:  Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that can easily coat a spoon.  (The finished volume should be about 1 1/4 cups.)
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.

     Fiori Pasta and Wild Mushroom Crème Gratin:  
     This recipe yields 1 entrée. 
     Step 1:  Place the al dente cooked Fiori Pasta in a mixing bowl.
     Add enough of the Wild Mushroom Crème to coat the pasta.  (The pasta should not be swimming in sauce!)
     Toss the sauce and pasta together.
     Step 2:  Place the sauced pasta in a shallow single portion casserole dish.
     Try to expose a few of the mushroom bits on the surface.  
     Step 3:  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of finely grated Parmigiana Cheese over the pasta.
     Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of fine French bread crumbs over the pasta.
     Sprinkle 1 or 2 pinches of chopped Italian Parsley over the pasta.
     Step 4:  Place the casserole in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the toppings are toasted light golden brown.  The sauce should be bubbling in the casserole dish.
     Step 5:  Remove the casserole from the oven.
     Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of White Truffle Oil over the casserole.  (If the White Truffle Oil tastes weak, use 1 teaspoon.)
     Place the casserole dish on a doily lined serving plate.
     Garnish the casserole with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     This is a very nice baked pasta for a chilly day!    

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