Sunday, 8 September 2013

Chicken pasta (v)

  So, I have a confession to make - I might have told just a little porky-pie with the title of this one.  Although I am using the fungal equivalent of chicken (both by name and texture), I couldn't resist adding just a little bit of bacon to this creamy Chicken of the Woods pasta.  Of course, if I had been able to resist the temptation of bacon, this would be a great vegetarian dinner.

For help on Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) identification click here -> Identification

Chicken of the Woods is a firm-fleshed mushroom and is great in creamy sauces or stews.  You must be sure you pick the young specimens or just the tips of the bracket where it is freshest.  This is because Chicken of the Woods turns woody with age, and, as I have foolishly tried eating an older specimen, you can trust me when I say that it's really quite foul!

Oak and Chestnut are your best bet for finding Chicken of the Woods, though I've always found the better specimens on Oak - particularly look for dead or dying trees.

The best flesh is near the lighter coloured tips of the brackets

Chicken of the Woods and a small Beefsteak mushroom (bottom left)

This is an extremely easy recipe with only a few ingredients - you will need;

- Chicken of the Woods
- One red onion
- Bacon
- A few cloves of garlic
- Single cream (double if you're naughty)
- Teaspoon of mustard
- Pinch of fresh tarragon
- Salt and pepper

This dish doesn't take long, so start off by getting your pasta boiling.  Whilst your pasta is cooking, fry the onion, garlic, bacon and Chicken of the Woods in some oil.  After everything has cooked through and sweated down nicely, simply add a generous amount of cream, mustard and tarragon. Cook until the cream starts to bubble and season accordingly. It's as easy as that.

If you are mixing the pasta in with the creamy sauce, it's a wise idea to keep some of the pasta water back after draining so that you can add it back to the pasta/sauce mixture, as the pasta will absorb some of the cream - you wouldn't want a sauce-less pasta now, would you!?

Although it may not look like much, this is one of my favourite ways of using mushrooms with pasta -  it takes ten minutes, but tastes a million dollars! 

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