One of the best parts of traveling for pleasure or business is the introduction to new and different regional foods. Sometimes that dish might be a transplant that follows a formula from it’s point of origin but then makes use of local products and produce. It’s a fantastic part of the travel experience. My recent vacation (July 2015) was a Train and Drive Roadtrip through Central Europe ending with a 3 day stay in Istanbul, Turkey. A bit of an updated version of the old GRAND tours d’Europe, only this one came with casual clothes and WiFi. It’s taken me all of these past 7 months since vacation to find the right time or words to start sharing the trip with you, especially through the food. And since it’s mid-winter time talking about Summer vacations is a sunny spot on a cold day. So what do we have to talk about today? We are talking about this Pasta dish I had at a premier autogrill spot along the highway from Vienna to Salzburg. The Landzeit chain is dotted along Austria’s Autobahns. We stopped on our way into Salzburg for a bite at the Landzeit in Strengberg. I can’t report on the town, but I can tell you that for someone who loves food this was paradise. Spotless, fresh, amazing selection and care in it’s preparation, this is very good dining. This would be a great concept to see on our U.S. highways which are anything but food savvy. Can you recall the last CRACKER BARREL or ARBY’S where you saw a pile of CHANTERELLES???? Don’t go crazy. I can answer for you, and the answer is no. European food culture, on average, is what Americans consider “foodie” or “gourmet” for lack of better terms. I love chanterelles and love to cook with them when they are available in our markets, generally farm or gourmet markets. A wild mushroom they are a bit pricey and very delicious. Imagine my excited when this appeared in front of me at the Landzeit Strengberg: No need for further commentary because THAT picture says it all. Farm fresh local abundance. Austria LOVES it’s EIERSCHWAMMERL…the days we spent in Austria there were piles of them everywhere and they turned up in so many of the dishes, especially in Salzburg. At the Thursday morning “SCHRANNE SALZBURGER” which I literally FELL into while walking that morning around the hotel area before the family woke up, I was greeting with the most amazing local farmer’s market I’ve ever been to. I’ll be talking more about this in future blogposts. The produce. The meat and sausages. The Poultry. The baked goods. Special in everyway AND there were the ever present Chanterelles. I sampled some that came from the LUNGAU section just to the south of Salzburg. I could only dream of loading my suitcases up with this pile and taking it back to the Jersey Shore with me. Amazing display of local Chanterelles from Lungau (LUNGAUER EIRSCHWAMMERL). Things always taste BETTER to me or are more exciting when I call them in their native language. Delicious. Italian food is global. Everyone loves pasta made in various Italian styles and Austria is no different. This dish we will make is a pasta dish using Cream, Parmigiano, Green Onions, wine, and Chanterelles. The Pasta choice will be up to you as the CRESTE DI GALLO, Cockscomb shaped pasta are not readily available even in Italian-centric neighborhood, but they certainly work wonderfully with the sauce. The restaurant we were at was making them fresh infront of us. Another item I wished I could have filled my suitcases with, but, not possible. You can use any of the cut tubed pastas for this, ZITI, PENNE, MOSTACCIOLE, PENNE RIGATE, SHELLS. There’s just an added level of enjoyment when the creamy sauce gets trapped in the pasta. Add Campanelle (Gigli) to this list. They work well too. LET’S COOK!!
SERVES: 4-6 TIME: 1 HOUR
1 LB IMPORTED ITALIAN PASTA (Penne, Ziti, Creste di Gallo, Campanelle, Cavatappi, Shells) cooked al dente according to package . DeCecco, DelVerde, Cocco, are all good choices. They hold up well to the sauce.
1 1/2 LBS CHANTERELLES (OR OTHER WILD MUSHROOM) well cleaned and patted dry. Wild mushrooms can hold onto dirt and sand so take care with cleaning them. Then chop them and reserve.
3 TBS UNSALTED BUTTER
1/4 CUP SLICED GREEN ONION
1/8 CUP WHITE WINE
3/4 CUP HEAVY CREAM, ORGANIC IS BEST,and must be full fat
1/4 TSP. GOOD HUNGARIAN SWEET PAPRIKA
1/8 CUP FRESHLY GRATED PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO CHEESE, plus more for serving
KOSHER SALT, FRESH GROUND PEPPER
In a large heavy skillet/frying pan heat the butter. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 the green onions, season with salt and let this saute’ for at least 10 minutes. Shake the pan a few times to allow the mushrooms to cook evenly. Now add the wine and stir the mushrooms. This will pull up any caramelized bits on the bottom and add flavor to the sauce. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to a siimmer. Now add the heavy cream and paprika and blend. Keep this on a simmer , do not let this boil. Boiling will cause possible curdling and separation. It should take about 20 minutes to thicken and reduce. Organic cream is suggested not because it just sounds good but because it’s somewhat richer and that helps it be more like the rich European creams. Add the drained Al Dente Pasta to the pan and continue to cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the 1/8 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Now taste for seasoning and add the salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/2 the remaining Green Onion. Blend. Serve. Each serving should get additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a garnish of Green Onion. Why green onion (scallion) ? Because it showed up in most of the dishses we had in Austria. Rather than move into a more Italian aromatic like onion or garlic this kind of makes it unique and rather Austrian. The VonTrapp Family would be proud.
Now you are eating like you’re driving thru Austria in the Salzburger region. Isn’t travel delicious???
HAPPY COOKING!! Thanks for traveling to the land of EDELWEISS with me today and bringing it into your kitchen!!