I have a big bag of dried Oregon portobello mushrooms in the freezer and let me tell you, a handful of those babies improves the flavour of almost anything. It doesn't necessarily make it taste mushroomy either -- there's something in mushrooms that actually enhances the flavour of whatever they're with. I use them more like a seasoning in my dishes, rather than another vegetable.
Anyway, we recently received a package of beautiful, dried mixed wild mushrooms along with this Jaime Oliver recipe. With so many different kinds of mushrooms, there was a ton of flavour. So, so good. Note to self: specialty dried mushrooms make a great gift.
In the tradition of the country store that has everything, Jack's Country Store on the Washington coast is a very cool place. You can order dried Oregon mushrooms from them, along with everything else under the sun. Seriously, they sell an amazing variety of fun stuff -- everything from cast iron pans to old fashioned candy, vintage toys to lug nuts for your car.
sausage and mushroom papardelle
adapted from Jaime Oliver's The Naked Chef Takes Off
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
9 oz pork sausage; remove casings (not sure of the conversion -- I used 3 links)
2 handfuls fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teas dried red pepper flakes
14 oz mixed wild mushrooms* roughly chopped
pappardelle, enough for 4 people
2-3 Tbs unsalted butter
handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
freshly grated parmesan cheese
*If using dried mushrooms, you obviously don't need 14oz worth. Just use a couple of handfuls, enough for 4 people. Try chanterelle, shiitake, portobello, morel, etc. Reconstitute in warm water, drain, and then roughly chop. (Save the soaking liquid to add to your next soup!)
Fry onion, garlic, and sausage till cooked and golden brown. Add thyme, chili pepper and mushrooms. Continue to fry until mushrooms give off their juice. Scrape up any browned bits from pan.
Meanwhile, cook pasta, reserving a little cooking water.
Remove mushrooms from heat, season with a little pepper and stir in butter until melted. Toss with drained pasta and stir in a little cooking water if too dry. Serve, sprinkled with parsley and grated parmesan.