Sugo di funghi alla Valtellina

Mushroom Sauce from Lombardy

This is the classic Lombardian mushroom sauce used for polenta pasticciata, but it would be delicious on fresh egg pasta or gnocchi as well. Seek out an assortment of fresh mushrooms for the most complex, and therefore satisfying, flavor. This sauce can be thinned with stock or cream if you want to serve it with sformati (vegetable flans).

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • pounds assorted fresh mushrooms such as cremini, chanterelle, porcini, oyster, hen of the woods, and lobster, in any combination, wiped clean and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup vegetable or meat stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Serving

  • 1 pound fresh pappardelle, fettuccine, or gnocchi, cooked

Method

Soak the porcini mushrooms in hot water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, and chop finely. Pour the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Set the mushrooms and liquid aside.

In a large sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the stock, the chopped porcini and their soaking liquid, and the garlic (if using) and simmer for 20 minutes longer to blend the flavors. Add the parsley and thyme and season with salt and pepper.

Toss the sauce with the pasta and serve.

Wine

Your best local choice would be a Valtellina DOC wine from Rainoldi in Lombardy. Failing that, pour a Barbera from the Piedmont.