A few photos of tonight’s dinner… featuring pieds bleus from New Covent Garden Market, yesterday. The heady earthy notes – along with those of mousserons & girolles – shifted the smells in the car from that of fish bought 90 minutes earlier from Billingsgate market at 5am, to those of an English woodland.
A little home-cured pancetta. Not fully dried out as it napped for a couple of months in the fridge rather than a wind-blown porch. Beautifully pink, peppery, and aged, nonetheless.
The pancetta was certainly unnecessary, and I almost put the crisped pieces aside for tomorrow, not wanting to distract from the mushrooms. I couldn’t do it…
To prepare the mushrooms, wash the pieds bleus and mousserons (little tiny mushrooms in bottom right of picture) in plenty of water. I usually fill a large bowl with cold water, add the mushrooms, and swirl them around, picking off any mud where I see it. Cut the pieds bleus in half, and pick as many stems from the mousserons as you have the patience to.
Mix one egg with a huge heap of grated parmesan in a bowl on one side, ready to stir everything in when cooked. This gives the unctuous carbona-style coating.
It happens the recipe only takes 15 minutes or so; were it to take a few hours it would still be worth it. But then the ingredients did take months – and a night with far too little sleep – to get hold of…
200g good quality spaghetti
Mushrooms, couple of handfuls, washed, picked over, and sliced (see above)
Parsley, handful, finely chopped
Pancetta, heap, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
Large cloud of grated parmesan (100g wouldn’t be too much…)
Butter, olive oil, salt, pepper
White wine, bottle
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg with the parmesan.
Bring a pan of water to the boil, and add salt. Always taste the pasta water – as if you’re tasting stock – to check the seasoning. Add the spaghetti. Follow timing instructions on the packet.
In a frying pan, throw in the pancetta, and cook until crispy. When ready after 5 mins or so, pour over a glass of wine and leave to bubble furiously for a couple of minutes. Keep warm.
Whilst the pancetta is crisping, add some butter and olive oil to a second frying pan, and add the sliced pieds bleus. Cook on a medium to high heat for a few minutes until they soften slightly. Throw in the mousserons, and leave over the high heat. The mousserons absorb more water during the washing process, and you want this to evaporate, and the mushrooms to brown slightly. Season with salt and pepper. When the pan looks fairly dry and the mushrooms soft and brown in places, reduce the heat, and add the finely grated garlic. Stir gently for 2 minutes. The garlic shouldn’t brown.
Drain the pasta. Tip into the large mixing bowl with the eggs and parmesan. Toss with the chopped parsley. Add the pancetta/wine, and then the mushrooms. Mix well, serve, and eat. Drink remaining wine.