Friday, November 29, 2013

Fettuccine in mushroom ragù with pistachios

Fettuccine in mushroom ragù with pistachios
I keep threatening to make a savory dish using shelled pistachios, and what I have in mind is something like a textured pistachio cream, maybe studded with ... something else? Over rice? Pasta? This is clearly still a work in progress.

In preparation for it, I recently shelled a good quantity of pistachios and have them stored in a tightly sealed glass jar. Tonight, in the mood to fashion an intense mushroom sauce for pasta, I decided to garnish it with some of the pistachios, and I'm happy to say it worked out very well.

It's still a mushroom sauce with pistachios, though, not a pistachio sauce, but never mind. It was good, and it went beautifully with a funky artisanal Loire delight, Puzelat-Bonhomme 2012 Touraine Pinot Noir. Here's how it came together:

  1. The dish was simple, but did take a few steps, which was fine with me. I was ready to move into the kitchen and a completely different creative mode after spending most of the day writing on such disparate projects as a wine column and a sermon for Advent 1A.
  2. I started by de-stemming about two dozen crimini mushrooms, slicing the mushrooms thick, and placing the stems into 2 cups lightly salted water with a brown onion skin and garlic cloves. 
  3. I simmered those for 20 minutes to create a mushroom-veggie stock, which I strained and set aside, discarding the veggies.
  4. Also in advance I had shelled about 1/2 cup pistachios. I set aside about six of these for garnish, lightly chopped the rest, and soaked the chopped nuts briefly in water to cut back on their saltiness.
  5. Meanwhile, melted 1 ounce butter in a skillet and sauted half of a sweet onion, coarsely chopped, and 2 garlic cloves minced fine, with a shake of dried red-pepper flakes, a grind of Telicherry black pepper and a sprinkle of kosher salt. After the onions and garlic started to brown, I added the sliced mushrooms and cooked them down (reserving a few for garnish first): then checked seasoning, and added 1 teaspoon soy sauce and 1 tablespoon Heinz chili sauce for umami. Take off heat and set aside.
  6. Started 4 ounces of Di Cecco fettuccine in copious salted water - it would need about 8 minutes to reach al dente.
  7. Melt another tablespoon of butter in a saucier, then make a roux with 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. When it's smooth but not yet turning brown, whisk in the hot mushroom broth, a little at a time, until it's a thick mushroom veloute. Stir in the reserved chopped and soaked pistachios, and use this sauce to dress the finished and drained pasta, garnishing with the reserved whole pistachios and mushroom slices.
The dish was fine, and indeed a delicious match with the Touraine Pinot.  I'd still like to come up with a savory dish that really showcases pistachios, though. Any ideas?