Here's a midweek dish that begs you to invite company over to share it. The combination of delicate mushrooms is a refined upgrade from the usual earthiness of darker varieties.
The sauce is rich, so serve this with a salad of peppery or slightly bitter greens, or with sauteed broccoli rabe.
- 1 piece thin, center-cut bacon
- Kosher salt, for the cooking water, plus 1/4 optional teaspoon for the dish
- 8 ounces dried orecchiette (ear-shaped) pasta
- 1 large shallot
- 1 large clove garlic
- Handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 12 shiitake mushrooms
- 1 cup (2 ounces) maitake mushrooms
- 6 ounces enoki mushrooms
- 3/4 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels. Cook the bacon over medium heat until it is just crisped, in a saute pan or skillet that's large enough to eventually hold all of the mushrooms and pasta, then transfer the bacon to the plate to drain. Turn off the heat under the pan or skillet.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of the salt, then the pasta. Cook until just al dente; drain in a colander set in the sink, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
While the pasta is cooking, mince the shallot and garlic (it's okay to pile them together). Finely chop the parsley.
Add the oil to the pan or skillet; heat over medium heat, then add the shallot and garlic. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, then add the butter and reduce the heat to low, allowing the butter to melt slowly. The shallot should be softened.
While the shallot and garlic are cooking, prep the mushrooms and add them to the pan or skillet as you work: Cut off and discard the shiitake mushroom stems. Use a brush to clean the caps, or rinse them briefly under cool running water, then cut the caps into 1/4-inch slices. Clean and stem the maitake mushrooms. Clean and stem the enoki mushrooms, then cut their long stalks in half.
Toss the mushrooms into the pan or skillet so they are evenly coated. Increase the heat to medium-high; cook for about 4 minutes, stirring, so the mushrooms are slightly wilted and become fragrant. Reduce the heat to medium; add the drained pasta, half-and-half and cheese, stirring until they are well incorporated. If the resulting sauce seems too thick (keeping in mind that it will continue to thicken a bit once it's off the heat), add some or all of the reserved pasta cooking water. Season with the pepper; taste, and add the 1/4 teaspoon of salt if needed.
Divide among individual plates or wide, shallow bowls; crumble a little of the crisped bacon over each portion, then sprinkle equal amounts of parsley on top. Serve hot.
Adapted from "http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1580089658?ie=UTF8&tag=washingtonpost-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=1580089658Takashi's Noodles," by Takashi Yagihashi with Harris Salat (Ten Speed Press, 2009).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.