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Linguini with Morels, Garlic, and Thyme

There is a reason some recipes like the following, become classics.

Mushrooms, garlic, white wine, fresh thyme, and a bit of heavy cream to tie it all together. I was lucky enough to get my hands on wild morels, the season for which is just starting (this being late autumn / early spring), and are believed by many to be on the top of the mushroom pyramid, but there is no reason you can't use the readily available button mushrooms.

I will walk you through the technique, use your intuition for the quantities which will depend on the number of portions you are making, the sizes of pots and pans, and your personal taste preferences.

Boil the pasta of your choice in a big pot with plenty of heavily salted water al dente. Keep 1 cup of the water, drain, and refresh under cold water. If using later keep the pasta submerged in water in the fridge and drain just before throwing them in the sauce.

For the sauce, in a smoking hot non-stick pan "burn" the:

  • Morels, which should be in bite sizes so cut them if too big

for a few minutes on each side, until their colour darkens and they start to soften and collapse because the water inside evaporates. This is how I like to start the mushroom treatment because it concentrates their flavour and greatly improves the texture. Take care to not overcrowd the pan, do it in batches, and remove to a plate. Take the pan off the heat to allow it to cool down, and turn the heat to medium. Add some oil or butter to the pan and saute the:

  • Garlic, very thinly cut

for a few seconds. Return the mushrooms to the pan and immediately deglaze with:

  • White wine

By the time the alcohol evaporates there should be enough liquid left to just cover the pan surface. Then add:

  • Heavy cream, enough to just cover the mushrooms

  • Salt, to taste

  • Pepper, to taste

If necessary turn heat down, you want a mere simmer and not a strong boil. Let it gently bubble for a few minutes until it starts to thicken and turn slightly yellow.

At this point add the reserved pasta water (not all of it, enough to mingle with the sauce to coat the pasta), return the pasta to the pan, and increase the heat to get a strong boil. Cook for a few more minutes, by the end of which you want to have a thick, silky coating on the pasta and not a thin runny sauce. Take off heat and add immediately:

  • Parmesan, grated

  • Thyme leaves, fresh


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