We had a big box of pine mushrooms a couple of weeks ago. The last of the foraged Victorian mushrooms. Apparently (correct me if I’m wrong) the pine mushrooms we’re still seeing now, come from South Australia. But they will be disappearing too. So it was with reverence that we cooked these, the last of the season. Nadia made some aniseed, orange zesty, pine mushroom dumplings for our friend Jake’s anise themed dinner party (a story for another post) and Sarah and I made this mushroom ragu.
We sliced the mushrooms thinly but in long strips and used grande pasta. Maybe everything in the bowl is a bit silly and giant, but I love how meaty the mushrooms are cut large (they hold their form very well). They have that great woodsy taste, like the essence of earth and leaves – but in the best possible way. And they are flavour sponges, taking on the garlic and wine and butter to become so flavoursome. It’s a very hearty meal. Perfect for the cold days we’ve been having.
As the pine mushrooms are almost gone, use swiss browns, or better yet a combination of Asian mushrooms that give this ragu a beautiful varied texture and flavour.
Pine Mushroom Ragu
(Recipe adapted from Kylie Kwong’s ‘Mushroom Ragu’ Heart and Soul)
8 garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 salad onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 tbsp sea salt
750g pine mushrooms (or if out of season, use a mixture of oyster, shiitake, swiss brown, enoki, black cloud ear fungus)
125g butter, roughly chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
black pepper, cracked
1/2 cup dry white wine
½ bunch flat-leaf parsle, roughly chopped
Place garlic, onions and salt in a heavy-based pan. Cover with the mushrooms (if not using pines, leave enoki and cloud ear fungus to add later later). Top with butter, olive oil and pepper and place, covered over high heat for 5 minutes, without stirring, to allow the flavours of the onions and garlic to penetrate the mushrooms.
Uncover. Add wine (and remaining mushrooms if not using pine), stirring to combine. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are just tender. Stir in parsley.
Serve with giant pasta, or a spoonful of polenta.