Italian white ragu pasta with wild mushrooms (chiodini)
One of the tastiest ingredients to be found here in Italy during the autumn is wild mushrooms. Italians love them, especially with pasta. This Italian white ragu pasta with wild mushrooms is one of many delicious Italian recipes for pasta and wild mushrooms! Of course, you can also substitute the wild mushrooms for cultivated ones!
For this white ragu pasta with wild mushrooms, I used what Italians call ‘chiodini’ or ‘famigliola buona’. We didn’t pick the mushrooms ourselves. We were given them as a present. My hubby is a doctor with a countryside practice. He often comes home with edible gifts from his patients, which is so nice! We get given fresh eggs and fruit, foraged mushrooms and even homemade pasta and cakes!
Chiodini mushrooms (Armillaria mellea) are found growing on or near hardwood trees. In English, they are better known as honey mushrooms. Honey mushrooms are actually a parasitic fungus that infects trees. Although that doesn’t sound tempting, these are actually among the best foraged mushrooms for cooking. In fact , Honey mushrooms have a slightly sweet taste and a rich umami flavour. Many people say they are better than shiitake!
The only problem with these mushrooms is that some people get an upset stomach after eating them. So, it’s very important that they are very well cooked. Italians usually boil them first for about 10-15 minutes and then rinse them well before adding them to a sauce or dish. This is what I did and we had no problems. Actually, this white ragu pasta with wild mushrooms was to-die-for delicious!
If you don’t have or want to use ‘chiodini’ (honey mushrooms), this white ragu pasta with wild mushrooms can be made with porcini or chanterelles. Both are very popular wild mushrooms in the Italian kitchen. However, even cultivated mushrooms would be delicious in this dish! I would go for creminis or shiitake.
The White Ragu
The most common way to cook wild mushroom pasta in Italy is with a simple sauce made with garlic, parsley and white wine, sometimes with cream too. There are also recipes for wild mushroom pasta with a tomato sauce or with sausage or a normal meat sauce. I liked the idea of serving these mushrooms together with a white ragu. This means a meat sauce without tomatoes.
Like sauces with tomatoes, there are many different versions of white ragu. It’s popular in many parts of Italy, especially Tuscany. White ragu is usually made with a mixture of different ground meat (I used veal and pork) plus sausage or pancetta (I used pancetta). The taste of the white ragu is milder than a traditional red ragu. So, it’s perfect with wild mushrooms as it doesn’t obscure their flavour but makes the dish richer and heartier.
Both white ragu and wild mushrooms are often eaten with flat egg pasta ribbons like tagliatelle or pappardelle. I chose to use mezze rigatoni, meaning half size rigatoni. These rigatoni were made by La Molisana, one of my favourites among the big pasta maker here in Italy! However, you can serve this sauce with either ribbons or short tubes such as penne or cut ziti.
Making this white ragu pasta with wild mushrooms
If using wild chiodini mushrooms, this recipe takes a little longer to make. The mushrooms need to be cleaned and boiled first. Other wild or cultivated mushrooms just need to be cleaned and sliced. After preparing the mushrooms, I started with the ragu. While that was simmering, I cooked the mushrooms with garlic, parsley and a little wine. When everything is ready you can either mix the mushrooms with the ragu or mix the pasta with the ragu, plate it and spoon the mushrooms over the top. It doesn’t change the taste. It just looks nice!
If you make this Italian white ragu pasta with wild mushrooms recipe, I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you liked it. So, please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Other pasta with mushrooms recipes to check out!
- Tagliatelle with porcini
- Potato and porcini cannelloni
- Baked lumaconi shells with chicory and porcini
- Homemade cavatelli with oyster mushrooms and sausage
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Italian white ragu pasta with wild mushrooms
- 400 g Rigatoni pasta (14oz) or other short pasta tubes
- 60 g Parmesan (2oz) grated
For white ragu
- 200 g ground pork (7oz)
- 200 g ground veal (7oz)
- 100 g pancetta (3.5oz) cut into small cubes
- 1/2 glass white wine
- 3 sage leaves chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig Rosemary chopped
- 2 carrots finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery finely chopped
- 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
- 3 tbsp milk
- 500 ml beef or vegetable broth I used homemade but you can also use a stock cube
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt for pasta and to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 500 g mushrooms wild or cultivated
- 1 handful parsley chopped
- 1/2 glass white wine
- 2-3 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
- 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Prepare the mushrooms
- Start by cleaning the mushrooms. Cut off the lower half of the stalk and brush the dirt away with a cloth. Chiodini (honey mushrooms) can be rinsed as they are going to be boiled. Porcini shouldn’t be rinsed as they will absorb the water.
- If using chiodini put in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes. Remove any froth that comes to the top. Drain the mushrooms and rinse well under running water.
- Cut the mushrooms into slices or in half depending on their size. Some of my chiodini mushrooms were so small I left them intact.
Make the white ragu
- Wash the carrots, herbs and celery. Peel the onion. Chop the pancetta into cubes if needed (you can buy pancetta already cubed)
- Finely chop the carrot, onion, celery, sage and rosemary. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan or skillet and add the chopped vegetables and herbs. Cook until they start to soften.
- Add the ground pork and veal and the pancetta. Let the meat brown well over a high heat, stirring constantly. Add the white wine and let the alcohol evaporate. Then add salt, pepper, the bay leaves and 2 ladles of hot stock and lower the heat and simmer the sauce for about 1 hour adding more stock when necessary.
- Ten minutes before the sauce is ready remove the bay leaves, add the milk, stir and finish cooking on a low heat.
- While the sauce is cooking put a large saucepan of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again.
Cook the mushrooms
- Heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chopped garlic and allow it to soften slightly. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5-10 minutes until they are nearly ready. Add the white wine and turn up the heat until the alcohol evaporates. Reduce the heat. Add some chopped parsley, stir and cook for another minute or 2. If the mushrooms seem dry you can add some broth or pasta cooking water to them.
Finish the dish
- Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet. When it’s ready, drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Mix everything well together and plate. Spoon over some of the mushrooms on each plate. Serve hot with a sprinkling of parsley and grated Parmesan or grana if required.
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