Simple and Delicious

Bucatini is one of my favorite pasta shapes.  I rarely cook it though, even before I became a vegan.  It’s too chewy for my wife.  Now that I am a vegan, I don’t eat it often either.  The penultimate role for bucatini in life is in “Bucatini All’Amatriciana“.  And since I have cut back significantly on my consumption of Guanciale and Pecorino, there are few occasions to enjoy this pasta’s marvelous, mouth-filling qualities.  Fortunately, tonight was one of those occasions.

Since Barbara had to rush off after an early supper of leftover cabbage soup, I was able to cook just for me.  As usual, the menu was ingredient driven.  A few days earlier I saw some lovely-looking chanterelles at our local farm stand, so that provided the impetus.  Until I learned how to cook chanterelles a few years ago, I was often disappointed with the texture.  Once I learned the technique, it became a mainstay when they are available in the Fall.

  • first, trim off any bad spots on the mushrooms, then cut large pieces into bite-sized slices, leaving small pieces whole
  • saute the mushrooms in olive oil or butter, until just barely tender
  • add stock (we use homemade roasted vegetable stock, although tonight I cheated by skimming off about one cup of broth from the cabbage soup)
  • cook on medium heat until the liquid is gone; add a little water and continue, if the mushrooms are still tough
  • when the liquid is gone, add about 1/2 cup of white wine, and boil that off
  • add salt and pepper to taste, plus any chopped herbs you fancy (tonight I picked some lemon thyme, oregano, rosemary and parsley from the garden)

While the mushrooms are cooking, boil the bucatini in lots of salted water, until al dente — perhaps 15 minutes or more.  Pick out a strand and taste — it’s the only way I know to be sure about doneness.  Reserve about a cup of the pasta water, then drain the bucatini.  Reheat the mushrooms, add the pasta water, and the pasta.  Heat until all is well-coated and the texture of the pasta is tender enough, but not flabby.

If you wish, add hot pepper.  I cut up some tiny Calabrian hot peppers and mixed them in.   For the wine, I was so happy to have received some of the Polvanera Aglianico recently, from Jan’s first shipment into the U.S. last month, via Acker, Merrall & Condit in NYC.  I also used some of the Sicilian olive oil I bought at Di Palo’s in NY recently, from Trapani.

This Aglianico is silky-smooth, balanced and delicious.  One of the best I have had.  Here are the Calabrian peppers, cut up, de-seeded, and shown red-on-red cutting board.

Interestingly, all that meaty flavor in the dish was created by 0.14 lbs., or 2.2 oz. of mushrooms.  It’s a good thing it takes so little; as you see, the good ones are $40/lb.  Anyway, after the pasta I felt a need for some vegetables, so I took out the mesclun from the farmers’ market, put it in a large bowl, added salt & pepper, Trapanesi olive oil, a little champagne vinegar, mixed it together, and put it back in my pasta bowl to eat.

Another observation: pasta served in a large bowl can be much more appealing as a main course, vs. a smaller bowl.  Here is the visual comparison between our normal pasta/soup bowl and the big one from Crate and Barrel.

Now, if you could only take care of my dirty dishes….

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7 Responses to Simple and Delicious

  1. eatingwhole says:

    Looks delicious! I’ll have to make this (with gf pasta – but still delicious)!! Thank you 🙂

  2. David says:

    I love pasta. I think my mouth is watering. 🙂 I was wondering if you could check out my blog. Come and see a kid’s view on all things baseball. Feel free to offer any advice and to pass it along.
    http://bleacherboy.mlblogs.com/

    -David

    • dgourmac says:

      Hi, Bleacher Boy. Welcome to the pasta-and-baseball-loving fanclub. I used to be a baseball fan, too. You won’t want to hear this, but I grew up in NY, in the days when there were three teams in the city and the Mets were not in existence yet. Even worse, I was a Yankee fan. Back in the days of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto. In fact, Joe D’s son lived around the corner from me, and we used to play together (when I was 5). A bit later, I played 2nd base. Could hit pretty well, but was awful in the field. In fact, I hold several North Jersey records for most errors in a season. Anyway, life moves on, baseball is corporate entertainment — there is no soul left in the game — and you will eventually find the really important things in life: family, friends, good health, food and wine. In the meantime, keep your eye on the ball.

      • David says:

        Yeah I don’t want to face the fear of baseball ever going for me. I have to enjoy it while I can. Great story of your childhood. Thank you for repliing to me
        -David

      • dgourmac says:

        When baseball is ready to disappear from your life, I promise it won’t be painful. It will be a natural evolution, like Spring to Summer. Unless, of course, you fall in love with a girl who is a baseball fanatic. That was not my experience, 47 years ago. Just take it as it comes.

  3. Your blog is making me hungry! Looks delicious!

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