Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mushroom pasta, Italianate wine

Here's a simple mushroom pasta that works well with sangiovese or Hunter shiraz with some age on it.

Starting with a cold frying pan, turn heat on to the lowest setting, slice three cloves of garlic, cover the base of the pan with olive oil, scatter in the garlic. While the cold pan and the garlic are slowly warming, strip a handful of fresh thyme and scatter into the pan with the garlic. Without letting the garlic colour, let the flavours steep into the warming oil. Ten minutes or so is good.

Take a double handful of mushrooms and chop them into reasonable chunks. I used flat cultivated mushrooms, but a mix can work well (perhaps some king browns, chestnuts, or even a bit of porcini). When the oil infusion tastes good, hit it with some sea salt, then add the mushrooms and let them braise (a knob of butter can be good now as well). When the mushrooms are soft and their juices released, turn up the heat, add pepper and a glass of dry white wine. When the wine has reduced a little, add a little pure pouring cream and simmer the sauce while your pasta is cooked. I quite like this with spaghetti or fresh fettucine.

It's a minimalist dish that gets flavour from the oil and the mushrooms, and is a good foil for Italianate red wines such as those made with sangiovese, or as last night, a 1998 Tyrrell's Vat 9 Hunter Valley shiraz. After a bretty start (medicine cabinet, band aid, alfoil) the wine opened up and looked fantastic. Bright acid, some development and youth at the same time, savoury flavours and tannins - confirmed for me how Hunter shiraz can share so many of the characteristics I love in sangiovese.

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