Creamy Fusilli with Caramelized Shallots and Mushrooms
Updated: Oct 2
This recipe started with the Autumn Equinox. The change of season brought with it a craving for mushrooms, creaminess, pasta, garden herbs, and all the heartier flavors. Also I had a refrigerator drawer full of shallots that needed to be used. I asked for seasoning suggestions from my brain trust: a FB group of world-wide chefs ( lucky me!); then the final recipe was crafted in my kitchen after a glorious roar of opinions and personal experience was shared there. Thank you, my KQ friends! 🙏🏻❤️
Anyway, fusilli. Short, twisty, and perfect for adhering to a light cream sauce.
So fusilli is the pasta to choose, or something very similar. If you like the taste and texture of an egg noodle rather than a semolina flour noodle, or prefer this be gluten free, I think that an egg noodle would work nicely also.
Shallots: lots 😂. I love them. Chef friend Jim describes shallots "as if red onions and garlic had love children". Slice and sauté in butter until light brown and caramelized.
Mushrooms: I used Baby Bellas (also called Crimini) and Shitake. I chose these because the bellas are firm and brown (rather than choosing white button mushrooms) and the shitake are meaty, earthy, delicious , and loaded with health benefits like fiber, B and D vitamins. Slice and sauté.
Garlic: of course. Sauté with the mushrooms.
Thyme: my choice. There was much discussion about sage, rosemary and a finish with parsley. Your choices may differ. But I love lots of fresh thyme and the outcome was perfect.
I had garlic chives still green in the garden so I snipped a bunch of them too.
Milk or cream? Again, dissent in the ranks. Cream will thicken a sauce on its own and you can add it directly to the same pan that your mushrooms and shallots are in. Cream never fails, and keeps this gluten free.
If you use milk because it's on hand you can depend on the classic bechemel trick of adding flour. Some chefs add pasta water to thicken but I don't trust the salt factor, some chefs hate the flour taste. Here is a basic cream sauce bechemel recipe for a lb of pasta:
If you are new to a cream sauce, don't be intimidated: melt the butter, add the flour (and garlic if using), cooking for a minute or so as you are whisking. Slowly add the milk, whisking. Bring to a gentle boil until thickness is achieved. Add the cheese at the finish after taking off the heat, whisking it in.
White vermouth: a splash of vermouth at the finish of the sautéed mushrooms gathered universal acclaim from all the chefs. 👍
Cheese: just a bit, like 1/4 cup, into the bechemel. Preferably Pecarino but Parmesan Reggianno will do just fine. This tiny amount turns the entire recipe into a Mac and Cheese, miraculously.
And finally, this fun advice from chef friend Bit, who quotes his Grandmother:
And credit when rightly due: Bit's
Grandmother's name was Dagmar Grubbstrom. 🙏🏻
Toss the el dente fusilli together with the sautéed yum and and finish with fresh parsley, and the butter trick if you dare.
This was fabulous for days afterwards rewarmed in the microwave. Like any mac and cheese, use the defrost cycle so the cheese does not sieze and separate.