PAGLIA E FIENO (“straw and hay,” green and white fettuccine with cream, ham and mushrooms, for six)
¾ pound crisp, white mushrooms
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or yellow onion
6 tablespoons butter
freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces unsmoked ham, shredded
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ pound fettuccine
¾ pound spinach pasta, cut into fettuccine
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Slice off the ends of the mushroom stems. Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp cloth. If there are still traces of soil, wash very rapidly in cold running water and dry thoroughly with a towel. Dice into ¼ inch cubes and set aside.
2. Choose a skillet that can later accommodate the mushrooms loosely. Put in the chopped shallots and half the butter and sauté over medium heat until the shallots have turned pale gold in color. Turn the heat up to high and add the diced mushrooms. When the mushrooms have absorbed the butter, briefly turn the heat down to low, add 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper, and shake the pan, moving and tossing the mushrooms. As soon as the mushroom juices come to the surface, which happens quickly, turn the heat up to high and cook the mushrooms about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down to medium, add the ham and cook for less than a minute, stirring. Add half the heavy cream and cook for just long enough for the cream to thicken slightly. Taste and correct for salt. Turn off the heat and set aside.
3. Choose an enameled iron pan or other flameproof serving dish that can later accommodate all the noodles without piling them too high. Put in the rest of the butter and the cream and turn the heat to low. When the butter is melted and incorporated into the cream, turn off the heat and proceed to boil the pasta.
4. Cook the spinach and white pasta in separate pots. Green pasta may cook more quickly, so check it carefully. When pasta is al dente (about 12 minutes after the water returns to a boil), drain it and transfer it to the waiting pan.
5. Turn on the heat to low and start tossing the noodles, coating them with the butter and cream. Add half the mushroom sauce, mixing it well with the noodle strands (this entire step should take no more than a minute). Add the half cup grated Parmesan, toss again and turn off the heat. Make a slight depression in the center of the mound of noodles and pour in the rest of the mushroom sauce. Serve immediately.
from Marcella Hazan, The Classic Italian Cookbook