I found that cremini mushrooms, with their deep flavor, were ideal for this sauce in particular. Because their taste is so intense, there really is little need to elaborate other ingredients. Dried or fresh pappardelle, fettuccine, or tagliatelle may be used.
- 6 oz. (175 g) fresh wild mushrooms such as porcini, chanterelles, morels, hedgehog, oyster, or cremini mushrooms, or a mixture of any of these
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 5 large basil leaves, torn into very small pieces, or 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 3 Tbsp. brandy
- 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
- salt, to taste
- 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
- freshly ground white or black pepper, to taste
- 1 lb (500 g) dried pappardelle or tagliatelle, or 1 quantity (1 lb/500 g) fresh egg pasta, cut into pappardelle
- freshly grated Parmesan, to serve
- Remove any dirt from the wild mushrooms with a soft brush or cloth. Trim the stems, removing any woody parts. Cut the mushrooms in half or quarter them, depending on size, then thinly slice and set aside.
- Warm the butter and oil in a broad skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and basil or thyme, and continue to saute until the mushrooms are very tender, 5-6 minutes.
- Pour in the brandy and stir. Dissolve the tomato paste and 1/3 teaspoon of salt in 1/4 cup (60 ml) of water and add to the pan. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, then stir in the heavy cream. When the sauce begin to simmer, remove the skillet from the heat and stir in pepper, according to taste.
- Bring 4 quarts (5 liters) of water to a boil. Add the pasta and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt. Cook the pasta until al dente, stirring frequently to prevent the strands from sticking together. Drain the cooked pasta and transfer to the skillet. Toss the pasta and sauce together thoroughly and serve immediately, passing fresh Parmesan at the table.
*I paired this delicious dish with a salad consisting of romaine hearts tossed in a homemade black olive vinaigrette (see the Salads & Starters section for that recipe and other great ideas).