Spaghetti with Pancetta and Morels

 

Spaghetti with Pancetta and Morels

Spaghetti with Pancetta and Morels

 

dried morels, reconstituted and sliced

dried morels, reconstituted and sliced

When I found out I was going to receive a couple ounces of dried morels, I couldn’t have been more excited.  I had just gotten married and gone to dinner at my favorite Athens restaurant.  I was lucky enough to be there when they had gotten some morels, and I had an amazing first course of morels on toast.  It was woodsy, earthy, and had that special morel flavor.  The next day, I was doing a little internet surfing and threw my name in to get 8 oz of dried morels.  If the recipe I create with them wins, then I will be the lucky recipient of two pounds of fresh morels.  

I knew I wanted to do two things immediately: make a simple recipe that would really let the flavor of the morels shine, and bribe my readers.  

Bribe? 

Yes.  If I win the contest over at Marx Foods, then I am going to share my bounty of morels with you.  I will be giving away 1 lbs of fresh morels to one lucky reader.  How do you get these morels, you ask?  Easy.  Comment on this post, then go over and vote for my recipe, if you like it, at Marx Foods.  If I win, I will use a random integer generator to choose the lucky winner from the commenters.  Quid pro quo, friends.  Quid pro quo.  Please note that to be eligible for this delightful prize, you must reside in the continental United States.  Otherwise, I just can’t afford to ship these to you!  Voting begins on April 16, and I will post the link here.  

Click here to vote for Spaghetti with Pancetta and Morels

So, let’s talk morels.  

beautiful marbling on the pancetta

beautiful marbling on the pancetta

 

Eight ounces is plenty of morels for just the two of us to consume a couple of times.  So, I decided to make two recipes and post the better of the two here.  I’ll post the recipe that didn’t make the contest cut later, which was farfalle pasta with a seasonal sauce of morels, peas, and mixed herbs.  I liked it, and The Hubz declared it a winner.  But, I just didn’t feel satisfied.  The flavors weren’t quite what I wanted.  I decided to simplify even more and use some of my favorite flavors to bring out the best the morels had to offer.  In this recipe, I combine the smoky, hammy flavor of pancetta with the woodsy yet bright notes of thyme.  I finish the simple sauce with a spritz of lemon.  The morels are, of course, the shining stars of the dish.  I felt like every flavor in this sauce accentuated the flavor of the morels, playing off the unique notes of their flavor and enhancing every bite.  Delicious.  You could serve this dish with a number of different pasta shapes, but I think either spaghetti or maybe farfalle would be the best choices.

 

morels makes this a divine mess

morels makes this a divine mess

 

Spaghetti with Pancetta and Morels

  • 2 oz dried morels
  • 8 oz spaghetti
  • good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 lbs pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 C shallots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 T thyme, minced finely
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Set a couple of cups of water to boil in a small pot.  Place the morels in a small bowl, and pour about a cup of the boiling water over them.  Make sure the morels stay submerged in the water; you can rest a ladle or wooden spoon on top of them to keep them under.  Next, set a pot of salted water to boil and cook the spaghetti according to package directions.  

While the water boils, heat a splash of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the pancetta.  Brown the pancetta gently, rendering out the fat for about 4-5 minutes.  When the pancetta is golden brown add the shallots and saute them until they are translucent.  Meanwhile, remove the morels from their soaking liquid, reserving the liquid.  Slice the morels about 1/4″ thick.   Add the garlic and the red pepper to the pan and saute very gently for about another minute.  Then, add most of the thyme, reserving a bit to garnish at the end and spritz about a quarter of a lemon over the dish.  Add the morels and saute until they start to become tender.  Pour in about a half cup of the morel soaking liquid, and bring the dish to a bubble.  Simmer quietly and reduce the liquid by at least half.  

After the sauce has reduced, season it with a bit of sea salt and black pepper.  Remove the sauce from heat.  Drain the spaghetti, reserving a ladleful or so of the starchy water.  If you feel the sauce needs a bit more liquid, you can stir some of the pasta water in.  Toss the spaghetti with the sauce.  Garnish with the remaining thyme and spritz the remaining quarter of the lemon over the dish.

Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a first course.

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51 thoughts on “Spaghetti with Pancetta and Morels

  1. Good Recipe …. I am from Indonesia , Central Borneo ( Kaimantan Tanjung Puting) my name is Linda Nisida.

    I want to practise the recipe , but I ask you Miss, is the morels a kind of mushroom ? , and may i change with the black mushroom, because in my country we don’t have morels.

    And what is pancetta , is that beef ? …..because i don’t eat meat so maybe i can chnge with chicken ?

    Thank you for the nice recipe.

    Please come to my blog. http:// lindataway.wordpress.com.

    Linda nisida. Indonesia.Central Kalimantan

    • Hi Linda, thanks for your feedback!

      Morels are a mushroom with a delicate, woodsy, almost floral flavor. You can substitute another mushroom here, and see if you like the flavors. Pancetta is a type of pork that is cured and is very salty. If you eat pork, you could switch it for prosciutto or Parma ham or even regular gammon.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Good luck from Santa Barbara! We voted and plan to try this recipe because we forgot all about Morels? They have a special musky rich taste…hmmm, we can just imagine them right now. and! great looking pancetta? best to you. s

    • Many thank yous! Santa Barbara is so beautiful. I like “musky” to describe their flavor; that really nails it, even though it’s hard to pin down. And oh, the pancetta was just marvelous.

  3. This is the second morels recipe I’ve seen today. And I’ve never heard of morels until today. Wow, this looks absolutely wonderful.

  4. I have been slow to join the mushroom bandwagon, but I have had some recent delicious encounters with morels and I want to try more! Your recipe looks divine. I hope you win and I hope to share in your bounty!

    • Mushrooms are a slow-growing romance, aren’t they? But then, one day you know you’re totally in love with them. I am so glad you like the recipe, and good luck to you in the bounty!

  5. I LOVE morels! We had them all the time when I was growing up. My favorite way to fix them was to simply fry them. I am looking forward to winning that 1 lb. of gold! Best of luck! Your recipe looks and sounds delicious. Just in case…… I (we) do not win, can you get them in Athens anywhere?

    • Steve, you are a cook after my own heart. If I get those morels, I am going to fry up a GIANT batch and just savor them. I am so glad you like my recipe. I am not aware of anywhere in Athens currently selling them. Good produce is the proverbial needle in the haystack, isn’t it? I’d say, call 5&10, and if they are still serving them it’d be worth going for a glass of wine and the morels. 😀

  6. No need to bribe me. Srsly.
    This looks fabulous! I finally made it over to let you know that! I’ll bet the spritz of lemon at the end made everything just light up. Lovely combination — and worthy of the noble morel, for sure!

  7. I left a comment for these when the contest first started. My sad comment was that I’d never actually cooked with morels. I don’t even know if I’ve ever eaten them! Sad, but true.

  8. I have to admit I have never cooked with morels, so you need to help this 50-something women expand her culinary skills. The recipe looks delicious.

    • Glad you like the recipe, Susan! Morels are worth looking for, and whether you go fresh or dried, you don’t need a lot to really appreciate their flavor. If I can get my hands on some more before they are out of season, I’m going to recreate the morels on toast I recently had. It really deepened and enhanced their flavor without masking it.

  9. Sign me up for those morels! That is one mushroom that my husband is constantly talking about. Apparently when he was little he used to go with his Grandpa who picked them for his Grandma. I myself had never heard of them until I met him. Your recipe sounds absolutley wonderful too! He’ll think he died and went to heaven! LOL He has a birthday coming up the end of May would make a nice dinner for him!

    • Your husband sounds like a dyed-in-the-wool fan of morels. I’ve never gotten to go picking them, but I am really hoping I can join in a mushroom hunt before the spring is over. If you make this recipe, please let me know how it turns out. I hope he likes it!

    • Thanks, Kevin! Good luck in your morel hunting – Marx foods has them, so feel free to hit them up. I was delighted with how well the dried ones reconstituted.

  10. Thank you…. very much….. i’ll try the recipe…..hungryyyy.
    I want to give you traditional Indonesian recipe ,that ussually to be menu of the Dayak wedding Day Party:

    young coconut tree soup

    Ingridients : – 1 kg . young coconut tree, wash, cutting thin 1/2 cm,
    measured tea spoon.
    – 2 onz yellow pumpkin , cut thin.
    – 1/2 kg chicken, cut to be 8-10 pices
    – 2 glasses coconut milk.

    spices : – Red onion, garlic, and curry spices from middle
    east/india,can buy in supermarket, maybe indian or arab
    shop/supermarket.
    – Salt, 2 glasses water.
    Cook :
    – Boil the coconut tree and yellow pumpkin until half done
    – Then put chicken and all of spises……let them boiled .
    – The last put coconut milk and salt……let it cooked.

    Now it’s already prepared. Please try……I hope there is a menu like that in your country.

    Linda nisida Taway .Indonesia. central kalimantan

  11. Pingback: MarxFoods.com Blog » Blog Archive » Blogger Recipe Challenge: The Polls are Open

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