This is another scrumptious recipe inspired by our honeymoon trip to Florence. Everywhere we went in the city (but especially in
the huge bustling Mercato Centrale) there were great baskets of porcini
mushrooms for sale, so cheaply that I couldn’t resist buying a big bag to bring
home. This is my attempt to recreate a delicious bowl of pasta that I had on
the first night, using the soaking juices from rehydrating the mushrooms to
make a silky roux. The addition of a tiny smidgeon of tomato adds a sweet
tanginess to the deep earthy flavour of the porcini.
40g butter, plus extra for frying
About 100g dried porcini mushrooms
A sprinkle of dried thyme
Begin by soaking the porcini mushrooms to rehydrate them
– place in a jug with about half a litre of water, and leave for at least half
Next, peel the onion and garlic, and chop as finely as
you can. Melt a good scoop of butter in a saucepan and add the onion, garlic,
and a splash of olive oil. Keep the heat low, so that the onion softens slowly,
rather than crisping up.
Once the onion has become soft and translucent, you can
start making the roux – add 40g of butter and allow to melt, then pour in the
flour and stir well until it forms a thick paste with the butter, onions and
garlic. The paste should come together smoothly without leaving any melted
butter behind. Keep stirring for a couple of minutes to cook out the taste of
the flour. Finally, add a splash of milk and 290ml of the porcini soaking
liquid, and stir well until you get a nice silky sauce with no lumps.
Now’s a good time to put your pasta on – I think sauces
like this are best with spaghetti or linguini. Cook according to the
instructions on the packet.
While the pasta’s cooking, slice open the tomato and
scoop out the seeds and liquid – you can discard these, as they’d just water
down the sauce. Finely chop the remaining tomato and add to the roux with the
rehydrated porcini. Season with salt and a sprinkle of dried thyme, and then turn
the heat down and keep an eye on the sauce – you can always add another splash
of the porcini liquid if it looks a bit dry.
When the pasta is ready, drain it and add to the pan with
the sauce. Give it a really good mix and then serve with a sprinkling of