Monday, December 14, 2009

Mushroom Ragu

When I traveled to Italy in 2005, I fell head over heels for all things Italian. The language, the landscape, the history, the architecture, the vino, the people and their passion for life, but above all, the cuisine! Italian food just does me in. There is nothing more pleasurable than a big bowl of pasta - real pasta. No store bought stuff. I don't care how good you say your store bought pasta sauce is - I guarantee you, it's not good! Especially once you've had authentic Italian pasta.

I will now step down from my pasta pedestal. Believe me, once you try this ragu, you will start to see what I am talking about. This ragu hails from one of my all time favorite celebrity chefs, Giada De Laurentiis. Giada is not only beautiful, charming, and witty, but she makes Italian food accessible. I got this recipe from her cookbook, Everyday Italian. Run, don't walk, to the store and get yourself a copy if you like Italian food. Every recipe I've tried of hers is amazing!

This mushroom ragu is for you mushroom lovers out there. The earthy taste of the mushrooms shine though, but the onions and fresh parsley and basil really take this sauce to a higher level. I served it over whole wheat angel hair pasta, but Giada writes that you can also use it over meats (chicken or beef would be excellent with this) or her favorite, polenta. She also recommends using wild varieties of mushrooms like cremini, oyster, and shiitake, but all I could find was baby portobellos and it still turned out fantastic!

Giada's Mushroom Ragu

1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Marsala
2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
5 fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When almost smoking, add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high and saute until the mushrooms are tender and all the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the head and add the Marsala. Return the pan to the heat and simmer until the Marsala evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and simmer until the sauce has reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese, basil, and parsley. Season the ragu with more salt and pepper to taste.

**This sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cool, cover, then refrigerate. Re-warm before using.

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