How to Make a Showstopping Black Truffle Pasta for Winter
Chef Karen Akunowicz makes her recipe for Farro Mafaldine with Black Truffle Butter and Mushrooms in this week's episode of F&W Cooks.
Black truffles are in season in the winter, but when you can't find them (or don’t feel like spending as much), black truffle paste is a great year-round option. Karen Akunowicz, chef and owner of Fox & the Knife in Boston, shows how to use it in the ultimate pasta dish, combining a black truffle compound butter with roasted mushrooms and nutty farro mafaldine pasta. The end result? A relatively simple but impressive meal that’s perfect for colder weather. Read on for Akunowicz’s method and follow along with the video above.
Make the Compound Butter
The truffle flavor in this dish is concentrated in the compound butter, which is incredibly simple to make: All you need is softened unsalted butter, black truffle paste (or finely grated fresh black truffle), kosher salt, and fresh lemon juice. Akunowicz recommends using unsalted butter for this, as it allows you to control how much salt goes in the dish. Combine it all together and set it aside until you’re ready to use it.
Clean the Mushrooms
Next up is cleaning the wild mushrooms. Akunowicz uses a mix of king oyster, shiitake, and hen of the woods. As she stems and slices them, she says that you want to leave the shape of the mushrooms intact, so they’re recognizable. Then toss them with extra-virgin olive oil, black pepper, and kosher salt, mix ‘em all up, and spread them out on a baking sheet so they can roast evenly.
Cook the Pasta—But Not All the Way
Although this recipe calls for farro mafaldine pasta, feel free to use any pasta that you have. Akunowicz cooks the mafaldine in boiling salted water for about two to three minutes. You cook it two thirds of the way in the boiling water—you don’t want to cook the pasta fully, as it will finish in the sauce.
Start the Sauce
The pasta sauce begins with olive oil, a sliced garlic clove, salt, and black pepper in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once the garlic gets toasty, the roasted mushrooms go in, along with mushroom stock or vegetable stock.
Add the Pasta
Next comes the pasta, which you want to make sure is coated in the sauce. Akunowicz adds lemon juice and chopped parsley (for acid and brightness, respectively), before incorporating the main event—the luxurious truffle compound butter. Once the sauce has emulsified and you’re satisfied with the consistency, you’re ready to go. Finish it off with grated pecorino Sardo, and, if you have them, grated or shaved fresh truffles for an extra-special touch.