Since their inception, I’ve been a fan of Farm Link Hawaii. Not only did they give struggling farmers some much-needed business, but they gave the public access to ingredients usually reserved for restaurants. Plus, using Farm Link Hawaii keeps you out of the grocery store, making self-isolation at the height of the pandemic far easier. So when they asked me to come up with some recipes to showcase their products, I couldn’t refuse. So here is my riff on Mushroom Carbonara.
For my first recipe, I wanted to make something that used as many local ingredients as possible but that’s also easy to make. As a result, I took this opportunity to rework a recipe I tried recently, hence the “2.0.” Now, the original recipe by Molly Baz is quite good. It’s a traditional carbonara containing no cream, but subs mushrooms for guanciale and adds garlic and shallot.
However, I felt the original recipe needed more texture and more roasty notes. So, this recipe seeks to correct those shortcomings.
What You’ll Need
As with any simple recipe, the quality of your ingredients have a significant impact on your final dish. So, while this recipe works well with the stuff you usually find at the grocery store, it really shines when you get the freshest and best ingredients you can get your hands on.
- 2 pounds Cremini or White Button Mushrooms
- 17 ounces fresh pasta of your choice – preferably from Onda Pasta – or 1 pound dry pasta
- 6 large eggs – preferably local
- 6 ounces or more DOP Parmesan-Reggiano or a 4 ounces container of pre-grated Parmesan
- 2 medium to large shallots
- 6 medium to large cloves of garlic
- 1/2 bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Kosher salt
- Optional – Hamakua Ali’i Mushrooms
Lucky for you you can buy Small Kine Farms cremini mushrooms, Shaka Moa or Puna Chicks large eggs, Onda Pasta, and Italian flat-leaf parsley pretty regularly through Farm Link Hawaii. Shallots are sometimes available, though garlic will need to be bought elsewhere. And do buy a chunk of actual Parmesan-Reggiano from Italy from someplace like Foodland, Whole Foods, or Safeway if you can. I tried making this dish with the pre-grated American parmesan at first and it was tasty. But using the authentic parmesan and grating it fresh really amped up the flavors.
Step 1 – Prep Your Mushrooms
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
In this dish, you’re getting a great deal of the flavor from the mushrooms. We want the mushrooms to develop a nice, golden exterior much like a nice steak. In order to do that, though, we have to control moisture. So, when cleaning your mushrooms, do not run them under water. Instead, take a damp towel and gently wipe away any dirt and debris. Then, take 1 pound of mushrooms and trim the woody portion of the stem off, and either halve or quarter (depending on size) and take the other pound and slice into bite-size pieces. Put the bit-size mushroom pieces on the side for now.
Take your mushroom quarters and halves and place them on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil, sprinkle sparingly with salt and fresh cracked pepper and pop it in your pre-heated oven. Set a timer for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove your mushrooms from the oven and carefully pour off the accumulated liquid. You may either discard this liquid or reserve it for another use.
Using a pair of tongs, spread your mushrooms apart on the pan once again and return it to the oven. You’ll want to keep them in there for at least another 15 minutes, but what we’re ultimately going for here is a nice golden-brown color. The mushrooms will also shrink quite significantly. Once you achieve the desired color, remove them from the oven and set them aside.
If you’re using Hamakua Ali’i Mushrooms, you can slice them into roughly 1/8th inch thick pieces and roast them using the exact same method as the cremini mushrooms. They don’t give off nearly as much water, though, so you can skip the draining step. You should, however, flip them at the 15-minute mark and keep them in the oven for a total of 30 to 45 minutes. Oh and, you can definitely cook them at the same time as your cremini mushrooms if you like.
Step 2 – Prep Your Other Ingredients
While your mushrooms are in the oven, prep your other ingredients. If you bought a chunk of parm, you can take this time to grate your cheese. You’ll also need to mince your shallots, thinly slice your cloves of garlic, and roughly chop the leaves and thin stems of your parsley. Then, separate the yolks and white of five eggs. Reserve the whites for a different use or discard. Combine your five egg yolks with your remaining whole egg, grated cheese, and black pepper and mix to combine. Set aside your cheese mixture.
Step 3 – Let’s Get Cooking
Set a pot of water with a few hefty pinches of salt over high heat and bring to a boil. Add a quarter cup of olive oil to enameled cast iron dutch oven or other heavy-bottom dutch oven and preheat over medium heat until small wisps of smoke begin appearing. Then, carefully add your chopped mushrooms to the hot oil and back away. Do not touch your mushrooms! Let them cook until they’ve released their liquid and the liquid has evaporated.
Once the liquid has evaporated, allow the mushrooms to continue to cook undisturbed for a few more minutes. Stir them as needed during this time to keep them from burning. We’re going for the same golden-brown color here as the oven-roasted mushrooms. Total cook time should be around 10 to 15 minutes.
Add your pasta to the boiling water once your mushrooms have been cooking for at least 10 minutes and cook per the package instructions MINUS 2 minutes.
Once the desired color has been achieved, add your shallots and garlic and cook stirring constantly until fragrant. This should take about 30-60 seconds. Yo want to soften your aromatics here – no browning. If your pasta isn’t quite ready at this point, move your mushrooms off the heat.
When your pasta is ready, scoop out 2 cups of the pasta water and set it aside. Then, drain your pasta and add your pasta to the mushroom mixture over medium heat. Add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and cook stirring often for two minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute. Why save pasta water and let the pasta itself cool? The starchy pasta water helps to emulsify the sauce and loosen it if it becomes too dry. Letting the pot of pasta and mushrooms cool a bit helps prevent you from scrambling the eggs in the sauce.
Step 4 – Bringing it All Together
Once your pasta has cooled for a minute, whisking constantly, add 1/2 of reserved hot pasta water to your egg and cheese mixture and mix to combine. Once combined, add slowly to your pasta and mushroom mixture while stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Doing so will allow the eggs to cook without scrambling and will for a thick, creamy sauce. If the sauce looks too thick, you may drizzle in a little more reserved pasta water. Do not stop stirring until the sauce coats your noodles – about two to three minutes – or your eggs might scramble.
At this point, mix in your parsley and roasted cremini mushrooms. Taste and adjust your seasoning with salt if necessary.
Step 5 – Grind!
This is definitely not a sauce dish you want to let sit around. Serve it up as soon as your finish and garnish with extra parmesan and cracked black pepper. If using roasted Hamakua Ali’i Mushrooms, I like to use them to top the dish for both visual appeal and for their meaty texture.
I hope you all enjoy this recipe – it’s quickly become one of my family’s favorites! It’s also a flexible one that takes to modifications well. For example, you could add a few ounces of Butcher & Bird guanciale to add some smokiness to the dish. If you do so, though, I’d cut back on the olive oil – maybe use a 1/8th of a cup. Then, cook the guanciale first until crisp to render out its fat and remove. Toss back in when adding the roasted mushrooms. OR, you can prep the recipe as is and add truffle if you’re feeling bougie.
Now, if you’re wondering why I cook my mushrooms two different ways it’s because of the texture. You certainly cook all of the mushrooms at once in the pot. However, when you’re finishing the sauce, the pasta water tends to soften the mushrooms. By roasting half of them, you can retain their chewier, meatier texture while also cooking some mushroom into the sauce.
Farm Link Hawaii Referral
If you enjoyed this recipe and want to give Farm Link Hawaii a try, I kindly ask that you use my personal referral link when signing up. By doing so, you’ll earn yourself a $10 credit towards your first order, while I’ll earn a referral credit too. What’s more, Farm Link Hawaii is even waiving delivery charges through the end of April. So now’s the perfect time to check them out. Mahalo in advance!
My referral link: https://farmlinkhawaii.com/referral.php?id=8424