Wild Mushroom Ragu (Pasta Sauce)
Serves 4-6 (Makes 3 cups sauce)
When properly browned, as they are in this recipe, mushrooms have a rich, deep flavor that pairs perfectly with pasta and satisfies even the most dedicated carnivore. The key is sautéing the mushrooms in batches; if you try to brown too many at one time, they’ll steam rather than brown. Because the sauce components are cooked and salted separately, be careful about how much salt you add at any one time or the finished dish may be too salty. Using a mixture of wild mushrooms adds interesting complexity to the sauce, although it’s delicious when made with a single variety (or even with a mixture of cremini, shiitake, and button mushrooms). Wild Mushroom Ragu freezes well. When you have an abundance of wild mushrooms, double or triple the recipe to make sauce for the freezer.Vegans should use additional olive oil instead of butter.
1 1/2 pounds cleaned and trimmed mixed wild mushrooms
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups diced onion, 1/2” dice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 cup dry red wine
1 Tbsp. minced rosemary
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
Slice mushrooms into 1/4” slices and then into 3/4” pieces.
Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat in a heavy sauté pan. Sauté one third of mushrooms, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, until they’re well-browned on both sides. If pan is too dry for mushrooms to properly brown, add butter and oil. Though you want mushrooms to caramelize, be careful they don’t burn; turn down heat if necessary. Remove well-browned mushrooms from pan with slotted spoon and set aside. Add 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. olive oil to pan and repeat with another one third of mushrooms. Add remaining butter and olive oil and repeat with final one third of mushrooms.
Sauté onions, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in olive oil until they soften and start to turn brown around the edges. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in wine, bring to a boil, and cook until wine is reduced to 1/2 cup. Stir in rosemary, crushed tomatoes, and chicken stock, bring to a boil, turn down heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in browned mushrooms and continue to cook for 10 minutes.
Serve immediately, tossed with your favorite pasta, or let cool and package for freezer.