If you like mushrooms, you get to enjoy them in so many recipes. Adding them to a pasta sauce (or indeed making them the centre of a pasta sauce) can only be a welcome addition to a mushroom lover’s repertoire. If you like a particular mushroom known as ‘porcini’ in Italian and ‘cep’ in English, here is a recipe that you might warm to.
It does require the porcini to be fresh. When fresh porcini mushrooms are not available, however, you can easily adapt this recipe and use a mixture of other mushrooms. You could buy some dried porcini mushrooms and soak some in boiling water for at least 15 minutes. You can then add the soaked porcini and the mushroom water to enrich your sauce.
On with the procedure then.
Soak some tomatoes in boiling water and then remove their skins. Cut up some pancetta or guanciale. Have some parsley at the ready. When you get a moment, mince it. Start by cooking the guanciale in a saucepan, so as to make it render its fat.Then add the tomatoes, which you have skinned, deseeded and cut into fat slices. Drizzle some olive oil at this point.
While that is going on, cook some sliced porcini mushrooms in another saucepan. Make sure you use olive oil for this too. When the mushrooms have cooked and browned on either side, remove them from the saucepan and set aside. Cooking the mushrooms means that some nice-tasting liquid will be left over … Pour it into the other saucepan. When the sauce is ready (about 10 minutes in all), sprinkle with salt and pepper and add minced parsley. Switch heat off for now. Think of your pasta water as a kind of ‘stock’ … in this case I added a sprig of rosemary to enrich it, as well as the usual salt. I decided to use egg pasta for this recipe. Just before the egg pasta is ready to be drained, turn the heat on for the saucepan with the sauce. The egg pasta cooks in no time at all … drain it straight into the pasta sauce. Turn the heat well up, it must be strong. Add a tablespoon of butter to the sauce and combine all the ingredients. Toss the saucepan if you can, otherwise use two forks, or a wooden spoon to help you do the trick. The pasta is glossy and well coated with the sauce … Switch heat off. The parmesan was grated only minutes before … Serve the pasta on each dish and shower each dish with a large tablespoon of parmesan.
P.S. If you were using a mixture of other mushrooms added to soaked dry porcini mushrooms, add the latter to the tomato sauce before you add the pasta and let it cook for at least 5 minutes.
P.P.S. You could use canned tomatoes instead of fresh. You might have to add a little bit of sugar to the mix.