Provenance of Dish
The Italians call this kind of dish pasta a risotto, or pasta cooked in the style of risotto. This is a fabulous alternative to using your stock for soup. The pasta absorbs the flavors from the stock and leaches out starch, which thickens the stock to create a savory sauce. You can cook the pasta up saucy and soupy with more stock, or tight and dry with less stock. Both versions are delicious and versatile. It is best to use thin spaghetti (spaghettini) or thin linguini (linguini fini). They will absorb the stock more efficiently. Thicker pasta will work, but you will need more stock and the taste will be wheaty. Very thin pasta like fidelini is good, but it absorbs fast, and tends to get knotted and overcooked. If I use stock to cook fidelini, I prefer to serve it as a soup. You can use any kind of stock in this technique, like beef, fish, or mushroom, and garnish any way you please: a can of tuna in oil, a combination of fresh herbs, grilled shrimp, sautéed tofu, chopped eggs and capers...go crazy! But this recipe was designed for Louie to use his turkey stock after Thanksgiving, garnished, of course, with mushrooms, because we are all about mushrooms. You can use a single species of mushroom, or a few mixed together. But keep in mind that for cooking ease all the mushrooms should be basically the same density. If you try to include very delicate mushrooms like enotake or graylings, you have to cook them separately as they will be ready faster.
1 lb fresh mixed mushrooms, like shitake, maitake, white buttons, cremini, boletes
4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Salt and hot pepper flakes to taste
1 ½ quarts Turkey stock
¾ pound spaghettini
6 to 8 tablespoons ricotta, strained (optional)
½ cup minced flat leafed parsley
Wash the mushrooms and trim off any damaged or dirty parts. Chop them small in little cubes, about the size of small croutons. Heat a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the oil. When the oil wrinkles, add the mushrooms. Cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the mushrooms sweat, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and hot pepper and continue cooking until the garlic is soft and the mushrooms start to exhibit the maillard reaction (like caramelizing), another 3 minutes or so. Add salt to taste.
Bring the stock to a boil in your pasta pot over a medium high heat. Season the stock to taste. Add the pasta. It will be stiff and stick out of the stock. Be patient. Gently push down the pasta, and after about 5 minutes it will soften and collapse into the stock. Stir often, as the pasta tends to stick together. Cook the pasta in the stock until it is al dente. You will notice the starch from the pasta thickens the stock to create a sauce. Add a little more stock or water if the sauce gets sticky. Do not overcook the pasta. It is best to serve this pasta loose.
Pour the pasta into a serving plate and garnish with the mushrooms, then the ricotta, if you like. Garnish with the parsley.