What’s Cooking Wednesday: Pennette alla boscaiola

Drawing inspiration from Cherrye’s recent Pazzi for Porcini post, this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday dish is Pennette alla boscaiola, pasta with porcini mushrooms, pancetta, and heavy cream. It’s supposed to have prosciutto cotto (cooked ham) in there too, but I got to the store too late and the slicing machine was already cleaned. Next time.

You should know that P and I both love mushrooms. He loves them so much that he goes out looking for them. He’s brought me itty bitty ones like this and monster ‘shrooms like this:

Monster \'shroom on Flickr

Mushroom pizza on Flickr

And on *really* good days, he makes my kitchen table look like this:

Lots o\' shrooms on Flickr

All the above photos are from the fall, prime mushroom picking time. For this recipe, I used dried porcini, which are truly lovely, especially since you get the added bonus of using the liquid you used to reconstitute them.

In fact, from the original recipe (in Italian), I cut out the butter and used liquid from the porcini instead. This dish is a *big* winner in our casa. So fast, easy, and delicious . . . a new favorite!

Pennette alla boscaiola
(Penne pasta with porcini, pancetta, and heavy cream)

Pennette alla boscaiola on Flickr

  • Dry pasta (I recommend penne/pennette or tagliatelle/fettucine) for two
  • 30 g (about 1 oz) of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 to 2 cups water to reconstitute mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 150 g (about 5 oz) of pancetta, diced
  • 200 ml (about 3/4 cup) heavy cream
  • 50g (about a 1/4 cup) of grated cheese
  • Salt to taste

1. About an hour before you’ll start cooking, put dried porcini in bowl and cover them in water.

2. When you are ready to cook, put the pasta water on to boil.

3. Use a fine strainer to drain mushrooms, placing another bowl beneath the strainer to catch the water; you’ll need it. If you want to chop the porcini into smaller pieces, do so now; I just leave them as is.

4. In a pan large enough to hold the pasta as well, heat oil over medium heat and then add onion. Let sautรฉ for a few minutes until starting to turn translucent.

4. Add pancetta and let cook for a minute or two.

5. Add mushrooms, about 6 tablespoons of the porcini water, and salt and let cook on low-medium heat for about 15 minutes. If you see that it’s starting to get dry, add porcini water as needed.

6. In the meantime, prepare the pasta so that it’s still rather al dente (it will cook some more with the cream) and drain.

7. Test porcini mixture for salt (if necessary, add more), and then add pasta to the pan, giving it a few turns with a wooden spoon to combine with the pancetta, mushroom, and onion mixture.

8. Make sure the pan is on low heat and add cream, stirring to combine everything.

9. Sprinkle in cheese and stir until mixed in well.

10. Serve hot with extra grated cheese.

Buon appetito!

35 Beans of Wisdom to “What’s Cooking Wednesday: Pennette alla boscaiola”
  1. Gil

    Sounds & looks delicious. I can’t believe the beautiful mushrooms.

    They do grow ’em pretty around here Gil…tasty too!

  2. 06.04.2008

    Oh my gosh, that looks delicious. Seriously, I may lick the computer screen.

    Shan’s last blog post..what’s cooking wednesday – cookie monster cupcakes

    OK Shan, step away from the screen. Slowly, slowly….

  3. 06.04.2008

    What a whopper of a Porcini ! My father brought me back a jar of my auntie’s ‘porcini sott’ olio’ from his village in Calabria once. Must be lots there ! Yummy pasta…

    Scintilla’s last blog post..Ti va` un Cappuccino ?

    Well that huge mushroom isn’t a porcino–not sure what kind it is other than enormous! But yes, we do have lots of porcini around here…great sott’ olio!

  4. Sally

    P sure seems like a mighty fine mushroom hunter. That picture of you kitchen table…wow!

    It was a lot o’ shrooms for sure Sally!

  5. Joanne at frutto della passione

    That looks divine, what time should I come over and do you have any wine preferences?

    Joanne at frutto della passione’s last blog post..Pascoli part 4 – I dolci

    Mezzogiorno is always a good time to stop by for lunch…and wine? Anything red will do ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. 06.04.2008

    We had porcini last night, too and I thought this might be the same recipe. IT was VERY similiar … ha ha!! I will post mine at some point!

    Cherrye’s last blog post..What Will Cannavaro, I mean, Italy Fans Watch Now?

    Can’t wait to see it! The more porcini the better!

  7. 06.04.2008

    He’s cute and also a successful mushroom hunter? Lucky you….

    I think I recognize finferli there, but the rest I don’t know– can P name them for us? I love pasta alla norciera so much I restrict myself to once every other year.

    Judith in Umbria’s last blog post..Why is that?

    The only ones I remember his naming are the chiodini…and probably some things in dialect that I’ll never remember.

  8. 06.04.2008

    I make a similar recipe, and it is also a favorite in this casa. I love the mushrooms here, and to get them fresh!! Yum!

    Beatriz’s last blog post..Too busy for words.

    The mushrooms here are definitely exceptional Beatriz…I can’t get enough!

  9. Scicchi

    I have never cooked anything with mushrooms before due to no one in the house liking them much (admittedly, mushrooms on take-out pizza is our only *real* experience with them), but I will surely try this dish. It just looks too good! Grazie!

    I didn’t like mushrooms nearly as much over there as I do here…try porcini. They are definitely ‘shroomy ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. alexmom

    Mmmmmm….dried procini!! I love them more than the fresh ones….the concentration of flavor and aroma is divine!!! Buon appetito!

    Agreed Alexmom ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. 06.04.2008

    WOW!!! I am so jealous of those mushrooms. If I come to your casa…I want P to take me mushroom hunting!!!

    I was also inspired by both yours and Cherrye’s posts and made 2 porcini recipe’s this past week. One was similar to your post today…yours adds pancetta though…..mmmm

    I’ll have to try this one. Gotta be careful..those dried porcini’s are a little expensive here ๐Ÿ˜‰

    My Mรฉlange’s last blog post..Yes We Did!!

    They aren’t *too* cheap here either Robin, for how close we are to the real thing, but still…so worth it ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Mary

    My recipe is a bit different than yours, but they’re both good. Then again, anything with porcini mushrooms in it is bound to be a winner. Yummmm. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Mary’s last blog post..Bombonieri

    Mary, I’ve printed out your recipe that you posted a while back–it’s next on the porcini list ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. this looks WONDERFUL! I will definitely try it…and that mushroom is HUGE ๐Ÿ™‚

    erin :: the olive notes’s last blog post..sunrise, sunset…and in between

    Super easy too Erin…enjoy!

  14. 06.04.2008

    That looks delicious! You’ve made me hungry ha ha, I shall have to go off in search of food now. I love mushrooms as well but you can’t pick them around here… they are the “wrong sort” of mushrooms that grow on the mountains, if you catch my drift ha ha. Don’t want to be eating those!!

    BecsLifeOnline’s last blog post..Broken Chains Festival 2008!

    Mushroom-picking is definitely only for those with ALL the info–glad to know you know where *not* to go Bec ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. 06.04.2008

    Aagghh! I am going to have nightmares about those mushrooms, lady. Everyone else may think they look delicious, but they are just scary to me.

    Other than the mushrooms, however, that pasta looks amazing.

    Stefanie’s last blog post..In which I prove once again that being Home Alone is not so bad

    If it makes you feel any better Stefanie, mushroom tend to be rather flimsy and weak ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. Maria from Philly

    YUM! Looks so good, I’ll make that tomorrow night for dinner. I would make it tonight but I’m heading to the Dave Mathews concert (6th) so I think I’ll be having yucky burgers or hot dogs for dinner :-(~
    I’ve seen this dish made so many different ways. I worked in an Italian restaurant (the owner from Sicily) and he made it with mushrooms, prosciutto cotto, heavy cream and peas. He’d also sometimes add some tomatoes for color. Either way it’s delicious!

    Yes Maria, this can be done many, many ways. P is strongly against peas in anything cooked, though, so they’ll never make it here (unfortunately…I love them any which way) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. 06.04.2008

    Oh my gosh, yummie mushrooms!
    You have inspired me to go to the local food co-op and get some dried porcini!!

    Mimi’s last blog post..On Pins and Needles…

    Woohoo! Get out there Mimi!

  18. 06.04.2008

    That’s a mushroom? That’s bigger than my kitchen table!

    Just kidding.

    Kind of.

    Well this looks delicious, and as always… I will imagine how wonderful it is.


    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

    Wanderlust Scarlett’s last blog post..The Rhythm of the Heart

    Hey I didn’t call it a monster ‘shroom for nothing! And this was delicious…someday you’ll have some ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. 06.05.2008

    That pasta looks so rich and delicious, those mushrooms are gorgeous.

    Julie’s last blog post..Bada-Bing !

    Glad you enjoyed Julie, and thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. 06.05.2008

    How lucky you are to have wild mushrooms and someone who picks them for you. I can practically taste that pasta right now. It looks so rich and fabulous.

    renaedujour’s last blog post..Dorisโ€™ Rhubarb Bread

    Very lucky indeed! Thanks for coming over ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. 06.05.2008

    Oh my goodness, Michelle! All my favorite tastes in one dish. This looks heavenly.

    jen of a2eatwrite’s last blog post..What’s Cooking Wednesday – Surprise Salad

    Hey these are some of my favorites all in one dish too…hadn’t thought of it that way!

  22. I do not like mushrooms at all. They have never appealed to me and looking at them doesn’t help. They truly are the one thing I can say with certainty that I do not like, at all! The dish still looks yummy, minus the shrooms, because I admit I am a big fan of “creamy” anything. Bad I know but I likes me good stuff too so they cancel each other out – in my mind that it! I do think it is sweet P’s a mushroom hunter and he likes to bring them home to you. Sweet.

    collette~all over the map’s last blog post..words that resonate

    Well we all can’t like everything, Collette…funny that I’m usually not a big fan of creamy sauces, but here it works for me.

    And yes, P is very sweet with his mushroom-picking ways ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. 06.05.2008

    Wow!!! YUMMY!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Butterfly Mama’s last blog post..Some other updates

    Hey Butterfly Mama! Thanks for coming by ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. 06.05.2008

    I’m going to have to try this. I LUV mushrooms. And pasta. And cheesy, creamy goodness!! And it looks so easy too.

    Andrea’s last blog post..Celebration

    Super easy, Andrea; I hope you’ll give it a try!

  25. 06.05.2008

    There’s something rather attractive about a man who can sniff out a mushroom. I guess it’s the hunter gatherer thing.

    amanda’s last blog post..Sopranome

    I’m with you Amanda!

  26. 06.06.2008

    This dish looks very tasty, will definately add it to my ‘must try’ list.

    Michelle – do you have to worry about certain varities of mushrooms not being edible/poisonous when gathering them in the wild?

    Ice Tea For Me’s last blog post..chili peppers 1, 2, 3…

    Absolutely Linda! P has been doing this his whole life and learned from the masters, so he’s pretty good…thank goodness!

  27. 06.07.2008

    Yummo! Having just been to Calabria and eaten lots of porcini (including a whole 7 course degustation menu at one restaurant) your images are making me miss them already!

    I am so so so sorry I didn’t have time to get in touch and catch up with you. I was thinking of you a lot as we were travelling around but it was the most insanely busy trip, working from the wee hours of the morning until late at night with barely enough time for a siesta.

    We did fall in love with your little region though and definitely intend to get back, so we’ll have to catch up next time. I’m looking forward to catching up on your blog also (we had very little access to the internet in Calabria, just at a few hotels only), and having now been there, I’m going to have to do a search and read everything you’ve written about Italy’s most authentic region.

    I’ve just uploaded a post (part 1 of a top ten to Calabria) and have linked to you:

    10 reasons to travel to Calabria: Part I

    Lara x

    laradunston’s last blog post..Good guides, bad guides: the good guides

    Ooh thanks for the mention! Can’t wait until you come back and we can talk about bella Calabria in person ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, glad you got to sample some of our lovely porcini, one of my favorite things about Calabria for sure!

  28. 06.08.2008

    This recipe looks fantastic, so I think I’m gonna give it a whirl. Thanks for sharing! It’s porcini season here in the NW, if it would only stop raining long enough for us to get into the woods and find them. I could really use a little Italy right now.

    Anne’s last blog post..Happy New Year

    Hah, yes the rain is great for the porcini, but it needs to *stop* so you can go gathering!

    So nice to see you Anne! ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. 06.12.2008

    mmm, this sounds delicious and the pictures are GREAT!

    Thanks Janet ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. 08.20.2008

    Oh my God! I just found this post! I adore porcini…actually I adore all those little jewels found in the woods in the fall.
    The risotto is divine but I have to try this pennette recipe. It looks delish!Thanks for sharing it!

    Susan’s last blog post..Natures Glorious Bounty

    Absolutely one of my favorite dishes ever, Susan…hope you enjoy!

  31. Leslie

    I just had this dish at my friend’s house and she is from Naples, Italy. There were no leftovers. I’m going to try it with leftover pork roast sauteed with the mushrooms. Hope it works. Thanks!

    Hope it was great Leslie!

  32. Leslie

    I’m trying this one again using baby portobellos and low sodium beef broth. Can’t always find porcinis so I have to be flexible. I’m going to add a little fresh basil and parsley as well. This is such a versatile recipe!

    Glad you’re enjoying it, Leslie! Playing around is really at least half the fun, isn’t it?

  33. 09.04.2009

    I love pasta boscaiola with porcini, prosciutto, cream, field or English peas, and lots of butter and cream, with an equal but generous portion of parmigiana reggiano.

    My grandfather was from just up the Puglia coast in Barletta, and had a similar dish, and used potato bread made with sea salt, and a dab of oil to sop up the left over sauce.

    I am so jealous that you are living in Italy. Wish I could be there now. Maybe after I get my passport next year, we can re-claim my grandfatherโ€™s homestead that Mussolini seized in WWII.

    That would be wonderful, Mark; I don’t know anything about such claims, but it should would make for a great family story (and happy ending) ๐Ÿ™‚ Best of luck!

    .-= Mark Hill´s last blog ..Dry Aged Beef and Dirty Steaks =-.

  34. Ciao Michelle! This looks fantastic!! Quick and easy, too. I may just have to go mushroom hunting! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hee hee…remember the dried work great too ๐Ÿ™‚

    .-= Laura from Ciao Amalfiยดs last blog ..Sunday Shout-out: Heather Jacks @ Sicilia Through Images =-.

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