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Pasta Top of the World: foraged Black Trumpet Mushrooms

6.September 2011

This weekend was a truly spectacular almost-end to the Summer – I cannot accept that it’s almost Fall, with its moldering leaves and misty cool weather, and Winter biting at its heels.  But before I devolve into bemoaning the end of warm weather and sun, I should say what I came here to say.

This weekend we were lucky enough to head to New Hampshire for my dear friend (and occasional Darby O’Shea contributor) Liz’s wedding.  I’ve got much much more to say about that (stay tuned), but right now I need to tell you that Liz is so unbelievably, ridiculously, implausibly, and gloriously awesome.

And I don’t only say that because she was beautiful at her wedding, nor because she planned a gorgeous party, nor because she’s always unfailingly a good friend.  No, I say it because on the day after her wedding, when she was certainly exhausted, when she was overrun with well-wishers paying respects to her and her parents at their gorgeous house, she ran off into the woods as we were about to hit the road back to Boston without announcing her reason (we did consider the possibility that she was running for the outhouse) and returned with two hands full of fresh-foraged mushrooms.  To be more specific, she came bearing Black Trumpets (a.k.a. Trompettes de la mort, black chanterelles, craterellus cornucopioides), bless her heart.

Today I spent much of the day thinking about what to do with the tender little lovelies.  I thought back to The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which I recently finished reading, and recalled that Pollan made a very simple pasta to celebrate his own foraging efforts and I decided to follow suit (despite Liz’s family’s suggestion of Omelette de la mort).

Speaking of Pollan, I remember him writing about the fierceness with which mushroomers protect their favorite hunting spots, the casualness with which they tried to brush him off when he asked about foraging spots.  Reading that, I thought to myself, that’s surely against the whole point of the locavore community.  Aren’t we supposed to be working together and sharing the spoils of our efforts with each other?

And the answer, I now know, is a resounding “NO.”

Because once you taste these mushrooms, you want them all (and I do mean all) to yourself.  They smell faintly like truffles, with a whiff of the pine needles you have to carefully brush from the inside and out, with a whiff of mud.  Not muddy, dirty, mucky mud, but spa-grade, youth-restoring, all-natural, healthy mud.  The kind of mud you want to wallow in.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but I won’t.  I’ll leave you to scamper off in the direction of the woods to find some of these for yourselves.  Lest you live your whole life without tasting these spectacular fungi.

Pasta Top of the World

(so named by the owner of the estate from which these little beauties sprang)

  • about 1 c of Black Trumpet mushrooms (carefully brushed clean of grit and pine needles, then torn or cut into small pieces)
  • about 1/2 c of heavy cream
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 lb fresh pasta (I recommend fettucine)

  1. Start a large pot of water boiling.  When water reaches rolling boil, add a good deal of salt.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter with olive oil in a pan.  When foamy and melted, add the shallot to the pan.  Cook until beginning to brown.
  3. When shallot is softened and beginning to brown, add mushrooms and saute until fragrant.
  4. Add cream slowly, bring to a simmer and allow to reduce (to steep, really, like tea) until light brown and mushroomy. Season conservatively with salt and pepper.
  5. Add fresh pasta to boiling water and cook until tender (mine took about two minutes).  Drain pasta and gently mix together with mushroom sauce.
  6. Serve with a light grating of parmesan.
  7. Enjoy.  You may cry.
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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Richard Knox permalink
    6.September 2011 22:39

    We’re honored. And we won’t tell why this dish is named “Pasta Top of the World.” Way too much of a hint.

  2. 13.September 2011 07:43

    Looks absolutely delicious… so jealous of your find!

    • Darby O'Shea permalink*
      13.September 2011 07:48

      I’m *told* by a loyal reader that this is also deeeelicious with dried porcini! Just soak them and then add a couple T of the soaking liquid to the cream with the mushrooms!

      For those of us without a steady supply of amazing mushrooms.

  3. Anna permalink
    14.September 2011 14:02

    So great to see you posting about what is also one of my favorite dishes! My bf’s mom is a mushroom guru, and we’ve been picking lots of black trumpets in southern Finland (and porcini, too, when we’re lucky). Fresh or dried wild mushrooms are great! You should also try making a cream-based sauce with mushrooms like these, and serving with a red meat, like lamb or beef….soak for 15 min, then fry with butter and onions, then add cream, stock etc…it’s awesome and you’ll love it :)

    • Darby O'Shea permalink*
      3.October 2011 10:51

      So great to see you *reading* this! Finnish mushrooms sound very exotic and delicious, even if they’re actually the same. I love the sauce + meat idea. Sounds delicioius. Hope you’re well!

  4. 13.October 2015 08:47

    We’ve just found a big haul of Craterellus cornucopioides, so I’ve been hunting for a suitable pasta recipe to do some of them justice (we had so many I’ve dried most of them)…looking forward to trying something similar, with a dairy-free twist.

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