Pasta with Ancho Chiles, Mushrooms and Garlic

Pasta with Ancho Chiles, Mushrooms and Garlic
Penny De Los Santos
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Ingredients

3large ancho chiles
11cloves garlic
8ounces dried fettuccine noodles
1/4cup olive oil, plus extra if needed
1 largebunch (about 13 1/2 ounces) oyster mushrooms, torn into very thin strips
salt
1/2cup chopped, lightly briny black olives, for garnish
1/2cup grated queso añejo or Parmesan, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Snip the stems off the anchos and cut an incision in each. Scrape out the seeds and veins with a spoon or knife. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover with warm water. Let sit for about 20 minutes, until the flesh has softened.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the garlic cloves and slice thinly.
  3. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and set aside, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  4. Cut the softened chiles into 1/2-inch strips—I do this by rolling them up like a burrito first, and then chopping width-wise.
  5. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the chiles and stir quickly, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Lower the heat if you need to.
  6. Once the chiles have become aromatic, stir in the mushrooms and cook until softened, 5 to 10 minutes, adding salt once the mushrooms have released their juices.
  7. Add the pasta to your mushroom mixture, with a little of the reserved pasta water and extra oil to make it more saucy if you like. Serve immediately in shallow bowls, topped with chopped olives and a dusting of cheese.

This recipe is a twist on champiñones al ajillo, the Spanish dish of garlicky, slightly spicy mushrooms. The anchos here almost act as a vegetable, lending a hint of sweetness and creaminess. A lot of garlic is necessary: it infuses the olive oil at the start of the dish, which then coats the mushrooms and the chiles. I like topping this with a slightly aged cheese (Parmesan or Mexican queso añejo) and chopped, lightly briny black olives, which brings out the bitter notes in the chiles. If you don’t eat gluten, this also works excellently as a taco filling without the pasta.

COOKING TIPS: I chose oyster mushrooms because they’re abundant in Mexico and because I like their chewy texture. If you can’t find them, substitute shiitake or crimini. Also, if you can find already peeled garlic cloves, use them—peeling is the step that takes the most time. Look for soft, pliable dried chiles. Brittle chiles won’t rehydrate well and the flesh won’t break down while cooking. You can also soften them on a comal beforehand in order to remove the seeds.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Eat Mexico © 2015 by Lesley Téllez, Kyle Books.