Thursday, 18 April 2013

Penne with ham and mushrooms

Selection at that market in Malaga got me excited about mushrooms again. But the selection back home isn't quite as magical... All I found were champignons. But you think I settled for that and actually produced a bona fide veggie dish? Ooh, no. Pork and mushrooms are just too damn good together. And when you add mustard and cream, you'll end up with a damn fine pasta. Don't believe me? Try it!
For mustard I happily used Finnish strong and sweet variety, but feel free to use any mustard you like. If you go for something as strong and vinegary as Dijon, adjust the quantity and if you like, add some honey to balance the sharpness.

For 2

150 g penne
12 champignons
1/2 smallish onion
appr. 70 g lardons (that's fancy word for bacon cubes)
the paste squeezed out of 3 large roasted garlic cloves
2 dl good stock
1 tbsp mustard
2 dl cream
handful of chopped chives (or spring onions)
3 slices of serrano ham (or Parma)
salt, pepper

Cook pasta in generously salted water according to the instructions on the package. Meanwhile make the sauce. Cut the mushrooms into thick slices - 3 or 4 per mushroom. Fry them on a hot, dry pan until the moisture has evaporated. Then add the lardons and let the mushrooms gain that glistening coating from the bacon fat (what a smell!). Make sure the pan isn't too hot as then the bacon will just burn.

Add the onions, finely chopped and fry until they soften a bit. Then squeeze the garlic paste out of teh cloves and into the pan, add mustard and the stock. Bring to boil and then bring the heat down. Add cream and chives. Let simmer for a while, season (but be careful, bacon and serrano ham add quite a bit of saltiness) . Add pasta and toss together. Slice the serrano lengthways in 2 and combine with pasta. Serve. Marginally pretentious basil branch so reminiscent of the 90's  optional.

And remember- there are differences in hams. If you have a choice, use younger and more pale-coloured ham that has a milder flavour. Aged, more mature iberico (or paleta) has a lot stronger flavour that for this dish might be a bit too leathery.

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