Sometimes, vegetables should taste like vegetables. Actually, most of the time vegetables should taste like vegetables. But sometimes, just sometimes, they should taste like meat. This is one of those times.
I found this recipe in an issue of Cook’s Illustrated forever ago and have almost made it countless times. The most previous time I almost made it was when I decided to make mushroom risotto instead, because I have a problem. Speaking of, it’s about time for some risotto. Stay tuned.
When I finally made this recipe, I mentally kicked myself for waiting this long. It is delightful. It is hearty. It is warming and delicious and makes my heart smile. This mushroom ragu changed my world when it comes to thinking about a rich hearty ragu sauce. The mushrooms transform into this meaty, rich sauce that is mind blowing. For real.
I just realized I didn’t take any pictures of the final dish as it was served, because I was too busy stuffing my face to bother with details like, oh, the reason I’m taking any pictures in the first place. Sheesh. I wonder what it would be like to have a brain that remembered things. Sorry about that.
I’m still going to tell you about this, though, because it was pretty darn good and you deserve to hear about it. Just imagine in your little minds eye this pasta, with cheese all over it. Kind of like all of my other pasta dishes. You got it.
I started by cooking some chopped pancetta until crisp. Pancetta is an Italian cured meat that is comparable to bacon and therefore awesome.
Once the pancetta was crisp, I added some chopped portobella mushrooms that had been cleaned and had the gills removed, and some chopped white button mushrooms. I also added some garlic, tomato paste, and chopped fresh rosemary. Rosemary is my all time favorite herb. Besides basil. And maybe sage. Oh and thyme. Never mind.
I let that cook for a while until the mushrooms were slightly soft and the tomato paste had started to brown. Then I added some chicken broth, seasoned with salt and pepper, and stirred.
Then, because I can’t leave well enough alone, I added some cream.
I let that simmer for about twenty minutes while I brought a pot of water to a boil and cooked the pasta. I chose Bucatini for this, which is a long pasta similar to spaghetti except that it’s hallow in the middle. I’d never cooked with this variety of pasta before so when I saw it in the store, I replaced my boring old spaghetti for this new exciting, more hallow, spaghetti. If I had thought to take a picture of it, I would have, but I didn’t. Instead, here’s a picture of what the sauce looks like after it’s been simmering.
Yum. When the pasta was al dente I drained it, returned it to the pot, then added the sauce on top. I tossed for about a minute until the pasta was completely coated in the sauce.
I served it in a bowl with grated Parmesan cheese and some more fresh chopped rosemary. Use your imaginations, people.
This pasta was every bit as hearty and rich as a meaty ragu, but without the three hour block it takes to cook. It was fast, easy, and delicious. I loved the earthy mushrooms and the rosemary, and the added cream made it silky and wonderful. Mushroom ragu wins.
Here’s the recipe!
Bucatini with Mushroom Ragu
- 4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1 inch pieces*
- 2 large portobella mushrooms, stems and gills removed, caps cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 pint button mushrooms, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup light cream
- salt and pepper
- 1 pound Bucatini or other long pasta
- Grated Parmesan for serving
*Omit the pancetta and change the chicken stock to vegetable stock to make this vegetarian. I mean the pancetta will be missed, but I bet it would still be pretty good!
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and add pasta. Cook according to package instructions, to al dente. Drain and return to pot.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook pancetta, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms to skillet along with tomato paste, garlic, and rosemary. Cook for about 5 minutes until mushrooms have softened and tomato paste starts to brown.
- Add chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cook for 3 minutes. Add cream and stir to combine, then reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes.
- When sauce is finished, add it to pasta and toss well, for about a minute, to combine so that all the pasta is coated in the sauce.
- Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and a pinch of chopped fresh rosemary.