March 01, 2011

Quick Mushroom Ragu

The current issue of Cook's Illustrated (March/April 2011) includes a recipe for a Quick Mushroom Ragu, a spaghetti sauce based on pancetta, tomatoes and two types of mushrooms (dried porcini and portabello).  The idea of a quick sauce full of rich mushroom flavor appealed to me, so as soon as I read that recipe, I knew I'd want to try it out.  Last week I finally did so.

This sauce came together really quickly.   The recipe is advertised as being ready in just 30 minutes, but I think it actually took a bit more than that.  Not much, though... 45 minutes at most.   That's a pretty good amount of time to get a meal ready, and especially if the meal is a good one.

I thought it was great.   The porcini mushrooms are soaked in chicken broth, which is then microwaved, and the broth is used as the liquid for the sauce.   The hearty portabellos, flavorful porcinis and the bit of meatiness provided by the pancetta come together to produce a deliciously rich flavor blend.   Served with spaghetti, a sprinkling of grated Romano cheese and a Caesar salad, I thought this made for a very satisfying meal.

Juli would disagree with that assessment, however.   I loved this recipe, but she was not a fan.   She wasn't fond of the texture of the pancetta, and I think she found the concentrated, smoky flavor of the porcini mushrooms somewhat over-strong.  I think this is just one of those occasions when our tastes differ.  Unfortunately, that means I probably won't be making this one very often, but I do plan to keep this recipe in mind for the occasional weekend when she is busy with something work-related or off visiting family.  I'm perfectly content to make it for myself and finish off the leftovers over the next couple days. 

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