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Another Mushroom Ragu

April 26, 2007

Mushroom Ragu Number Two

A few months ago I made this out of control rich and delicious mushroom ragu and intended to make it again, many many times. I think I even said I would attempt to make the gnocchi that went with it from scratch. Needless to say, that hasn’t happened yet. And I wouldn’t want to bore my guests here by making the same thing over and over again, so that particular mushroom ragu hasn’t made a repeat appearance.

But I did see this particular mushroom ragu in, yes, Giada’s Everyday Italian. I told you I’m getting obsessive. Though I’ve noticed this cookbook thing is becoming something of a pattern. At the beginning of the week it’s as though I subconsciously pick one cookbook from which I cook all week. This week was Giada’s turn. Maybe next week will be Middle Eastern week.

Anyway, I had a half a pound of mushrooms in my refrigerator and had no idea what to do with them, along with a bottle marsala I’d bought to make a chicken marsala that has yet to materialize. When I saw the recipe, lightbulbs went off. Or something like that. Of course, Giada does specifically say that your basic button mushrooms shouldn’t be used in the recipe, because they’ll be overwhelmed by the other flavors, and basic button mushrooms were all that I had. But do I ever listen? No! “They’re organic,” I reasoned. “Maybe they’ll be more flavorful.”

I’m not sure that they were more flavorful, and maybe they did get overwhelmed by everything else. Maybe wild mushrooms would have made this ragu something beyond delectable. But delectable it was. And no, I didn’t make my own gnocchi. I was much too lazy for that. I bought some gnocchi made by a very, very local company. They’re actually located right down the street: Serino’s. It was really delicious and cooked up perfectly–toothsome and pillowy and beautious, without turning into the gelatinous lump that pre-made gnocchi can sometimes turn into.

Serino's gnocchi

Giada’s Mushroom Ragu

  • 1/8 c. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms (mixed wild mushrooms are recommended, apparently)
  • a bit of salt and pepper
  • 1/2 c. Marsala
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1/3 c. grated parmesan
  • 3-5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • a good handful of fresh parsley, chopped

I halved Giada’s recipe and it made just enough for two people. I love it when recipes are easy to halve.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot and shimmery looking, add the onions and the garlic. Lower the heat a bit and cook the onions, stirring only occasionally, until they are soft and just starting to brown. Add the mushrooms, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Spread the mushrooms in an even layer, raise the heat again, and let them sit for about five or six minutes. Stir them maybe once or twice. Let them cook until the mixture just starts to stick to the pan, and the mushrooms have released some liquid and started to darken.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the Marsala. Then return to heat, and let it all simmer away until the Marsala is completely evaporated, probably about five minutes. Add the chicken broth, lower the heat again, and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half. This might take about 12 to 15 minutes. Giada’s recipe says 30, but I think that’s because she’s using twice as much stuff as I did. You can put the gnocchi or pasta or whatever into cook right about now, and it should all be done at the same time.

Mushroom Ragu happiness

Drain the gnocchi, and remove the ragu from the heat. Stir in the cheese, basil, and parsley, with a bit more salt and pepper if you feel like it. Apparently, you can make this sauce two days ahead and just rewarm it right before you use it. Hm.

It was delicious and rich. It almost tasted like I’d used beef broth. The mushrooms were tender and meaty, and I find myself now wondering how it would have tasted with wild mushrooms. Oh well, maybe another time.

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