Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Paglia e Fieno

Paglia e Fieno, also known as "Straw & Hay," is a traditional pasta dish from the Emilia-Romagna region. This recipe is a modified version of a recipe that I tried during a class taught by Stephen Sands at the L'Academie de Cuisine. The original recipe called for the use of reduced chicken stock. I modified the recipe to use dried mushrooms and the reserve liquor from the mushrooms in place of the stock, making it vegetarian-friendly. Also, the original recipe called for the use of prosciutto, and I have kept that in the recipe as an option for those non-vegetarians.

Any mushroom can be used in this recipe, although it is best to mix a few varieties together. You can use shiitake, oyster, cremini, porcini, or a pre-packaged mixture of wild mushrooms. When I have made this recipe, I usually use dry porcinis with a pre-packaged mixture of wild mushrooms (available at gourmet stores or from Igourmet.com). Most recently, I made this recipe with morels, chanterelles and a mixture of wild mushrooms.

This recipe is also best with handmade fettuccine - old school style with the hand crank pasta maker. However, for those who do not make their own pasta, look for fresh fettuccine.


Paglia & Fieno
(Serves 4-6)

4 oz. prosciutto
12 oz. mixed, wild mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, cremini, porcini, morels, chanterelles, etc.)
1/2 large lemon, juiced
2/3 to 1 cup of reserve liquor from dried mushrooms (see below)
1 cup to 1 & 1/2 cup of heavy cream
1clove of garlic, finely minced
2-3 tbsp. of butter
Fresh basil
Fresh parsley
Sea Salt
Fresh ground pepper

First, rehydrate the dried mushrooms in warm water for approximately 30 minutes. Be careful, mushrooms are like sponges and will take in a lot of water. Check them a couple of times and remove them from the water after no more than 30 minutes. Take the liquid and run it through a cheesecloth to remove any remaining dirt or other matter. Pour the liquid into a sauce pan and add a few fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for approximately 30 to 45 minutes.

Cut the proscuitto into thin strips. Take the mushrooms and slice them into thin pieces. Drizzle the lemon juice.

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a saute pan and saute the minced garlic. Pour in the whipping cream and the reserve liquor and reduce until smooth.

In a separate saute pan over high heat, add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. After the mushrooms begin to lose their moisture, add 1-2 tablespoons of butter and saute the mushrooms until tender. Once the mushrooms are tender, add the prosciutto and fresh parsely. Simmer on very low heat until all ingredients are warmed through.

When you are ready to serve, add the mushrooms to the saucepan with the heavy cream and reserve liquor and mix the sauce together.

Once the pasta is ready (i.e., after you have brought a pot of salted water to a boil and cooked the pasta in it), add the pasta to the sauce. Garnish the pasta and sauce with a chiffonade of basil and with fresh, grated parmigiano reggiano.

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