In reality, I call today’s dish “Pappardelle with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Guanciale, and Fried Egg in a Light Chardonnay Cream Sauce.” But at the risk of sounding like an overcomplicated, high-falutin’ menu entrée, I decided to drop a couple more words (or ingredients), preferring to stay a bit mysterious. Until of course, the dish arrives at the table and a “buon appetito” is uttered! Nothing is more splendid than the delightful surprise of pork jowl bacon (guanciale) and fried eggs on your pasta plate when you least expect it!
I remember this certain meal in Rome, when after meandering the city’s cobblestone streets one night, we sat at a trattoria garden – feet all blistered and swollen – desperate for a hearty plate of pasta and a cold glass of chinotto. My husband asked for the amatriciana – a typical pasta preparation of Rome and the Lazio province of tomato sauce, guanciale, and Pecorino cheese. I asked for an ai funghi (with mushrooms), which is not traditionally Roman but just as delicious. I remember the way the buttery sauce clung to each strand of my fettuccine, creamy and luscious as can be. After a bit of CSI work, I found out later on that Italian housewives made ai funghi with panna da cucina (cooking cream), which is less fatty than heavy or whipping cream, but mimics its rich flavour. Needless to say, when I got back to Canada, I tried to recreate and perfect that ai funghi pasta dish I had in Rome.
Then, I saw this post by the wonderfully talented Rowena of Apron and Sneakers blog, and I knew I just had to have some pasta with chanterelles! I am warning you, looking at her food and travel photos will elicit a serious case of hunger and wanderlust!
So, let’s break down the components. Here are the key players in this recipe:
Chanterelle mushrooms, finferli in Italian, grace us with their yellow to orange trumpets during the summer and fall months. In Canada, chanterelles can run up to $150/kg ($15/100 grams). I find that 100 grams give you about 12 to 15 pieces. Consider that quite expensive mushrooms!
Aside from their luxurious meaty texture, chanterelles are chock-full of vitamins C, D, and potassium. These mushrooms are well-suited for cooking with oil, cream, and butter, as their compounds are fat-soluble. They also contain smaller amounts of water- and alcohol-soluble compounds that lend them well in recipes with wine. Hence, the light Chardonnay cream sauce to complement their woody, earthy flavour.
Guanciale is cured pig’s jowl bacon that produces a naturally smokey meat that can be eaten “raw” but preferably cooked with its fat rendered into the sauce (as in pasta all’amatriciana). Guanciale is typically used all over Rome.
Chardonnay is a type of green-skinned grape that originated in Burgundy in eastern France; however, it is also cultivated in northern Italy to produce lean, crisp white wines.
So in essence, this dish has one foot in Italy and the other in France. As for the fried egg on pasta? I’ve never heard of the French doing that!
What the French (and Italians) do, though, is cook with premium, barrel-churned butter from cows that actually graze in pastures, not feedlots! That is why their butter over there in Europe is so much more superior than anything you will find in North America! I used this burro, or butter, from Italy that has a distinct grassy aroma and sweet but piquant undertones. Delicious!
We also love the speckled beauty of quail’s eggs, so naturally, we chose to fry these teeny ones to go with the pasta. The resulting dish definitely took us back to Rome even for just a minute!
And because I really wanted the chanterelles to shine, I scaled back on the thick-cut pappardelle pasta while piling on the mushrooms instead!
I hope you enjoy this pasta recipe that I shared. It’s definitely not an everyday pasta dish; your hips and your wallet will not forgive you if you ever overindulged. Reserve this for special occasions, ones that you love to celebrate.
- 500 grams (a little less than 1 lb) egg pappardelle pasta
- 300 grams guanciale, sliced thinly
- 250 grams fresh chanterelle mushrooms
- 30 grams (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, European-style preferably
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 240 ml (1 cup) Chardonnay wine
- 240 ml (1 cup) vegetable or mushroom broth
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely minced
- quail eggs for garnish
- salt and pepper
- In a large pot, bring water to a boil over high heat and salt generously. Cook pasta to al dente, according to package instructions.
- In a large pan, cook guanciale over medium heat, until bacon turns opaque but not burnt. Set aside to drain over paper towels. Dispose of bacon grease and wipe clean the pan.
- In the pot you used for cooking pasta, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Sautée garlic until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium, add the chanterelle mushrooms and sautée until juicy (if it is dry, then you may have overcooked them), about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Add half the Chardonnay wine (1/2 cup), and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes or until the wine reduces. When mushrooms are done, turn heat off but leave mushrooms in the pot, but away from heat.
- Back to the other pan (the one used to cook bacon), heat the remaining half of the wine (1/2 cup) over mdium heat until it reaches a boil and is reduced to half, then add the vegetable broth first, followed by the cream. Stir thoroughly. If you want a thicker sauce, add more cream. If you want a thinner sauce, add more broth.
- Bring the cooked pasta back in the pot with mushrooms and stir thoroughly. Pour the cream mixture into the pasta and stir until combined.
- Add the cooked guanciale and mix well. Season to taste. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
- Over medium heat, pan fry some quail eggs in an oiled skillet until the edges start to curl and turn golden but the yolks still runny.
- Remove from pan with a spatula and lay on top of pasta. Serve immediately.