Been cooking a lot of porcini cream sauces lately. I had some in a restaurant somewhere in like December, and have been obsessively trying to perfect on my own.
I made it for some friends yesterday, even though it was stupidly hot in our a/c-less house… probably not the best timing there, but I thought I’d share, since that batch came out about as good as I think this is going to get.
I hardly measure anything and rarely use recipes, so this is a bit rough.
* * *
3 cups heavy cream
2 cups grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic
dash of thyme
1-2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
bow tie pasta
Put heavy cream and mushrooms in a pot. You want as many mushrooms as will fit in the cream and still be submerged, and more cream than you think you’ll need, since much of it will be absorbed by the mushrooms.
Heat on low, being careful not to let the cream boil. Stir often and squish the mushrooms with a potato masher every now and then — use the kind of potato masher that’s flat with holes, not the skinny grill kind. You want to squeeze the juice out of the mushrooms, not cut them up.
After about 30 minutes of this, strain the cream into a new pot.
Working in small batches, put some mushrooms in a bowl and squish them some more, holding the bowl sideways and letting the last of the juices drain into the new pot.
Discard the mushrooms (they’re kind of rubbery and unappetizing left in the sauce).
Put the new pot on low heat. Slowly add all but about 1/2 cup of the cheese over the next few steps, stirring often.
Start boiling some water for the pasta.
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan.
Mince the garlic, and add to the frying pan. Cook until the garlic is browned and fragrant, then add the garlic to the cream.
Add thyme to the cream. Just a little bit of thyme can overpower the other flavors, so be careful not to overdo it.
Add pasta to your boiling water, and cook until tender.
Drain pasta, mix with cream sauce, and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
* * *
This tends to taste pretty robust on its own, though I frequently add some brined, broiled chicken too, and want to try this with crumbled chorizo… I think that might work well.
* * *
Whoops, read the porcini label wrong. 2 oz is plenty.