Penne with potatoes, chanterelles, preserved tomatoes, and walnut cream

This is a real stick-to-the-ribs winter meal. It was originally made up on a cold November night, but I think it works quite well with winter yellowfoot or white chanterelles, as well as really any mushroom you can find. If you don't have your own preserved tomatoes (the candied tomato recipe in The Myrtlewood Cookbook is what's used here), some great ways to get there swiftly: buy a jar of good sun dried tomatoes in oil, or use some dry tomatoes you have soaked and then bathed in olive oil (maybe with some garlic simmered in it first, then removed). Serve this with a good, jammy wine. 

Penne with chanterelles and potatoes.JPG
  • penne pasta
  • fingerling potatoes
  • winter chanterelle (or any other) mushrooms
  • walnuts
  • 1 tiny half pint carton of heavy cream 
  • parmesan 
  • sun-dried tomatoes or candied tomatoes 
  • chili flakes

Cook the potatoes in salted, boiling water for about 15 minutes. They should give slowly and beautifully to the prong of a fork. Remove the potatoes and set in a dish in the oven, at 200º.  Re-boil the water, adding more salt and dash of oil. Then cook the pasta for 10-12 minutes, or until your preferred level of bite. 

While the pasta is cooking, melt a large pat of butter in a saucepan or skillet. Crush the walnuts with the back of a large knife or with a mortar and pestle. Add them to the butter and cook briefly, until fragrant. Turn down before they have any chance of burning. Add half the cream. The walnuts will lend it a hint of purple hue. Add a handful of grated parmesan and turn off the heat. 

In a separate cast iron, melt another pat of butter and toss in the chanterelles. Cook on high until the moisture sweats out of the mushrooms. Remove the mushrooms from the pan, moving them to a dry, empty pan, also on high. Turn off the heat on the first pan and add the mushroomy juices to the walnut cream. In the dry pan, continue cooking the mushrooms on high, watching them all the time. You want them to dry out a bit and crisp around the edges; brown a bit like grilled meat. When the pieces are perfect (I suggest manipulating them with a pair of tongs), add them to the potatoes being kept warm in the oven. 

When the pasta is done, drain and combine with the walnut cream, potatoes and mushrooms. If the walnut cream is a little thick, add a splash of the pasta cooking water. To serve, add the candied tomatoes (or rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes) and pour in the rest of the cream. Top with more parmesan and black pepper or chili flakes.