Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cremini Mushroom Sauce

What does one do with a pound of mushrooms that will not last for another few days? Make a mushroom pasta sauce is my quick answer. We have no family recipe for mushroom sauce, so I developed this sauce out of necessity, since when I first lived on my own, I had many vegetarian acquaintances. It is perhaps 20 years or more since it was last prepared and it has a few new additions, but makes for a nice basic vegetarian pasta sauce.

1 1/2 lb brown Cremini mushrooms
2 large yellow onions
2T extra virgin olive oil
1 28oz can of tomato puree
2 cans of water (this is by volume, use the can)
1/2 oz dried porcini
2T dried basil
1t dried thyme
3 large cloves of garlic
Chop the onions and place in a non reactive 6 qt pot over medium heat along with the olive oil, and saute until the onions are translucent, adding a little salt to help them release fluids. Roughly chop the Cremini mushrooms and pulse in a food processor or finely chop with a knife.
Add the mushrooms and herbs to the cooked onions and saute for a few minutes more until the mushrooms have also lost some fluid. You may now add the can of tomato puree and stir it into the mushroom mixture. Cook while constantly stirring for a few minutes to caramelize the puree and produce a richer tomato taste.
Add the water and stir again Now you can add minced raw garlic and crushed porcini mushrooms. Bring the sauce to a low boil, scrape the bottom of the pot to make certain that nothing is sticking and reduce heat to a simmer. If the sauce looks like the consistency that you prefer, put a lid on the pot and simmer for 10-12 minutes before stirring. If the sauce looks too thin to you, leave the lid off the pot and stir every 10-12 minutes. The process of evaporation will thicken your sauce. You are looking for a rich brownish red color to indicate that the sauce has fully cooked. The sauce should be ready in less than an hour from the time you start the simmering process.

For this particular batch of sauce I held back 10 mushrooms and thinly sliced them for a textural contrast in the sauce. Garlic may be sauteed, but I added it raw. The porcini are icing on the cake and if you don't have them, leave them out. If you do use them, you may wish to reconstitute them with hot water and to add the water into the can for part of the water requirement for this recipe. Remember to use the can for adding in the water as the proportion is by volume.

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