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"In Italy, you always try to impress guests with your homemade pasta,” says Massi, who usually reserves the from-scratch staple for special occasions. “Making it gives you a moment to be together with people before the meal.” Kneading flour and eggs, he creates a paste, from which the word pasta originated, that he flattens and cuts with a machine. (While homemade pasta certainly lends a tender, melt-in-your-mouth element, this husband and father can also appreciate the convenience of the dry variety, recommending the De Cecco and Delverde brands.) For this earthy dish, he opts for fresh tagliatelle, because the noodle’s wide surface holds the sauce well.

 Rather than dousing the pasta in cheese, which would mask the distinct flavors of the featured mushrooms, the chef makes a light garlic cream sauce to allow the mix of porcini, oyster, shiitake, and morel mushrooms to shine. Sautéed bits of guanciale, cured pork jowl similar to bacon, add just a hint of salt.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. assorted mushrooms
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 slices guanciale (cured pork jowl, or  substitute pancetta), large dice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. tagliatelle 
  • Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish

Directions

Brush dirt from mushrooms and slice. In medium skillet over medium heat, warm butter with olive oil. Add garlic and guanciale and sauté just until meat turns pink, about one minute. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté for about two minutes, stirring constantly. Be sure that the butter and oil do not get too hot and fry, rather than cook, the mushrooms. When mushrooms are almost cooked through, slowly add cream and stir until sauce reaches desiredconsistency. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

In a medium pot over high heat, cook tagliatelle in boiling water until al dente, about two minutes for fresh pasta and seven to eight minutes for dry. Drain pasta and toss with sauce. Garnish with parsley and fresh ground pepper. Serve warm.


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