Wild Mushroom Linguine al Cartoccio
When your foraging expedition turns up only a handful of good mushrooms, this is a brilliant way to make them into a meal for two. Bulked out with some cultivated cousins, aided and abetted by a little reconstituted dried mushroom, your wild pickings will perfume the parcels while the pasta and mushrooms gently braise to perfection.
Al cartoccio is a classic Italian method of cooking food inside a paper parcel. It’s used for anything delicate and aromatic, such as shellfish or, as here, mushrooms. The parcels are opened at the table, to give diners the full effect of the delicious aroma. Folding parcels may seem a bit fiddly but they really do make the cooking very simple – you can make them ahead of time and pop them in the oven when you’re ready to eat. You’ll need some wooden pegs or metal paper clips to fasten the edges of the baking parchment.
- 15g dried wild mushrooms
- 170g dried linguine or spaghetti
- Approx 100g flavoursome wild mushrooms, such as penny buns, chanterelles, butter boletes or hedgehog fungus, cleaned
- Approx 100g cultivated chestnut or button mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed (enough to make up the total weight of fresh mushrooms to 200g)
- 50g butter, softened
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
- Zest of half a lemon
- ½ teaspoon celery salt
- 2 tablespoons dry vermouth or dry white wine
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly grated parmesan, to serve
- Pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms to cover and set aside to soak for half an hour. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for exactly half the cooking time stated on the packaging. When it is done, drain and rinse under cold water, divide into two equal portions and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Slice the larger fresh mushrooms into ½cm slices, and leave the small ones whole. Divide the fresh mushrooms into 2 equitable piles, one for each parcel.
- Mix together the butter, garlic, parsley, lemon zest, celery salt and a little seasoning. After the dried mushrooms have soaked, lift them out of the water and squeeze them tightly (keep the soaking water, you’ll need it later). Chop the dried mushrooms very finely and stir into the herb butter.
- Tear 2 sheets of baking parchment, roughly 30cm by 40cm. Take one sheet and scrunch it roughly, then flatten it out again. Take a shallow soup or pasta bowl and lay the parchment across it with the longest edge towards you. Push the paper down into the bowl in the centre to create a hollow (this will stop the liquid running everywhere when it is added). Take one portion of the mushrooms and make a layer of the sturdiest ones in the hollow and dot with a quarter of the butter in nuggets. Lay a portion of linguine on top of the mushrooms. Scatter the parcel’s remaining mushrooms over the pasta, and dot them with another quarter of the butter. Pour over 1 tablespoon of mushroom soaking water (skimmed from the top to avoid any sediment) and 1 tablespoon vermouth.
- Now to fasten up your parcel (see picture above for guidance). Take the left and right edges of the paper and bring them together in the middle. Sheets together and edges upwards, fold downwards and over three times to create a pleat, creasing it firmly closed (take care not to lift the parcel out of its bowl, or the liquids will spill). Next, fold the nearest edge over three times to seal, and secure with a wooden peg or a metal paper clip. Rotate the bowl and close the remaining edge in the same way. Put the parcel on a baking sheet and make up the second one in the same way.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. To serve, remove the pegs or paper clips, pop each parcel into a bowl and take to the table. Let each diner open the parchment, and offer a little grated parmesan for sprinkling over.
Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK