By Kenan Anderson, Blackbird Kitchen
This recipe includes instructions for making both pasta and sauce, but purchased pappardelle, fettuccini, or tagliatelle will still be a fantastic dinner. Consider local options like mushrooms from SporeAttic and pasta brands Dolina or Rustichella d’Abruzzo, available at Joe’s Parkway. Cook whatever pasta you use very al dente and finish cooking it in the sauce.
FOR THE DOUGH
2 cups low-protein 00 or all-purpose flour (300 grams)
Scant ⅔ cup semolina flour (100 grams)
5 large eggs, measuring about 1 cup, whisked until uniform (about 225 grams)
Mix the flours together then pour into a pile on a large wooden cutting board or tabletop. With clean hands, push your fingers into the middle of the pile until your fingertips are touching the board. With a slow swirling motion make a well in the flour large enough to hold the eggs.
Pour the eggs into the well. Use a fork to stir the eggs, gradually pulling more flour into the center and then working the whole mass with the tines until a shaggy dough forms. Knead the dough just until it comes together. There will be some flour and shaggy bits on the board. Scrape them off and discard, then knead the dough for a few minutes more. Protect the dough from air with a moist dish cloth or plastic wrap and rest it for 30 minutes. Once rested, knead for 5–10 more minutes then cut the dough in half. Briefly knead both halves into balls, protect from air again, and rest for another 30 minutes.
Roll each ball through a pasta roller or with a rolling pin until just thin enough to see the board through. Let the dough dry a bit, then cut into rectangles roughly 6–8 inches by 8–10 inches. Stack these sheets, dusting them with semolina between layers. Fold the stack in thirds like a letter you’re going to put in an envelope, and slice, perpendicular to the folds, into ¾-inch slices. Fluff these to separate the noodles and leave them loose and fluffed up on the board while you make the sauce. Come back and fluff every 10 minutes so they don’t stick together.
FOR THE SAUCE
12 ounces mushrooms (Morels, Chanterelles, or Hedgehog mushrooms if available, or try Shiitakes, Creminis, King Trumpets, Beech mushrooms, and more.)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1–1½ cups pasta water
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup minced parsley
1 heaping tablespoon minced chives
1 heaping tablespoon minced dill
¼ cup grated Pecorino cheese
Start a big pot of salted water boiling on the stove for cooking the noodles.
Clean and trim the mushrooms as needed and keep them as big and chunky as possible. For everything but the massive King Trumpets, just slice in half top to bottom and keep the littlest guys whole.
In a large pan, sauté the mushrooms in the olive oil or butter with a pinch of salt until cooked through and browned then turn off the heat. Stir in the garlic, chili flakes, black pepper, and thyme, using the residual heat to lightly cook the garlic and toast the spices. Cook the pasta: Drop it into the boiling water, wait a few seconds, and stir it to make sure the noodles don’t clump together. Cook for about 1½ minutes, maybe 2. It should still be decidedly al dente. If using store-bought pasta, cook to the manufacturer’s instructions for al dente pasta.
Drain the pasta but save 1½ cups of the pasta water before you send it down the drain.
Add 1 cup of the pasta water, the cream, and the Parmesan to the pan with the mushrooms. Add the cooked pasta and turn the heat to medium high. Stir or toss the pasta a lot to work the starch into the sauce and coat everything as the sauce reduces. Add more pasta water if needed to cook the pasta to desired doneness, and when the liquid is just thick enough to coat the noodles, toss in all of the herbs. Taste for salt and plate the pasta in 4 bowls, topping each with a bit of Pecorino.