Tagliatelle alla boscaiola is a traditional Tuscan pasta dish. However, it is so yummy that it is cooked in many Italian regions, with a number of variations.
Traditionally this dish is made with porcini mushrooms, pancetta and tomatoes. Today I am sharing the Neapolitan version, which is much more luxurious and rich. We use sausages instead of pancetta, while tomatoes are replaced by cream. It is absolutely divine and makes the perfect winter warmer for these cold days.
I feel like a bit of a rebel, going against the flow by sharing a recipe that has no Christmas theme. The thing is, I have spoken to Brits who sometimes opt for an Italian-themed Christmas menu – but they are not quite sure what that implies.
Well, the answer is not straightforward, as each family will choose its own favourite pasta dish, which could range from ravioli ripieni al sugo to tortelloni in brodo or a seafood sauce. The rule is that there is no rule. There is no equivalent to the turkey.
That’s why I am sharing this dish, which could be the perfect contender for anyone who wants to serve pasta this Christmas. If you take the sausages out, it is perfect for the vegetarian crowd, too. What is special about tagliatelle alla boscaiola is obviously the queen ingredient (the mushrooms) and the intense flavour they give to the sauce.
I made this pasta dish for George the night before I went back to Italy just over three weeks ago for a second surgery. Yes, you read right. Another surgery. Recovery has been long and I was not in a great mood – hence the long silence and the lack of posts.
However – and I will highlight and underline this clearly and loudly – something good always comes from the hurdles we face. Mine was meeting my surgeon, Dr Marika Bonifacio, a fabulous, generous, compassionate, kind yet strong woman who helped me out and made the whole experience bearable. It’s not so easy to meet individuals like her and I deem myself damn lucky for having crossed her path.
The second good thing was spending time with my wonderful mummy as she took care of me while I recovered back in Naples. She was a rock, as always, and put up with me for more than two weeks. Trust me, not an easy job! Let’s just say that I am not the most easygoing patient….
Wait, I think I have gone off a tangent… I was just saying that tagliatelle alla boscaiola was the dish I made for my husband George and he literally licked his baffi (moustache)! For me that really is the greatest compliment (after asking for seconds obviously).
Right, the time has come and I shall not delay it any further. I don’t know whether I will get a chance to blog again before Christmas; if not, I hope you all have a peaceful and serene celebration with the people you love, be it your family, friends or pets.
And if you decide to give tagliatelle alla boscaiola a go during these holidays, please let me know how it goes. Leave a message in the comments or post a picture on the Coochinando FB page🙂
- Half a small onion, chopped finely
- 6 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 50g dry porcini, or 400g porcini mushrooms (difficult to find) or chestnut mushrooms
- A splash of white wine (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil (to cook the sausages)
- 5 Italian sausages
- 300ml single cream
- 400g tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta
- Salt for boiling water
- Grated parmesan to sprinkle on individual portions (to taste)
If you use dried porcini
Boil 500ml of water in the kettle. Pour it in a large bowl. Place the dried mushrooms in it and let soak them for 30 minutes. (These are the instructions I got from the brand I used; yours may recommend different timings, so make sure you check.)
If you use fresh mushrooms
Clean with a wet cloth and chop into slices. Set aside.
Meanwhile peel and chop the onion into thin slices and set aside.
Take the skin off the sausages with a knife and place the meat in a plate. Squash it and reduce to smaller pieces.
When the time is up, drain the porcini in a sieve.
In a large frying pan add the oil and the chopped onions. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on the onions. Heat the oil and onions gently on low heat until the onions soften and become translucent.
Add the mushrooms, a pinch of salt and stir well to coat all the mushrooms with the oil. (Now you could add the splash of wine and let it evaporate on high heat.) Cook on medium heat for a few minutes. Add the cream and a pinch of salt and cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile in another frying pan add a tablespoon of oil and heat it on medium heat. Add the crumbled sausages and cook gently for a few minutes until the sausage meat is cooked. Set aside.
Increase the heat to thicken the cream further, add the previously cooked sausage meat and stir well. The sauce needs to be thick and creamy and not liquid, but should not get too dry, either, so it is important to cook it to the right point.
When you are happy with the consistency, cover with a lid and set aside.
Cooking the pasta
In a large saucepan add plenty of boiling water. (Pasta needs plenty of water to cook properly.) Bring to the boil. Add some salt (to your taste, start with a little salt and then taste the pasta while it is cooking. Add more if required).
Add the pasta to the pan when the water is boiling, stir frequently and cook al dente (follow the instructions on the packet for the cooking time).
To season the pasta
Drain the pasta in a colander and transfer to the pan containing the boscaiola sauce.
On low heat stir the pasta and make sure all of it is coated with the sauce. At this point you can see whether a little more cream is required. If so, add it and stir well.
Serve immediately and definitely bring a good-sized pot of grated parmesan, as it really is the final touch to a delicious pasta dish.