Sunday, September 18, 2011

Penne with Sausage, Porcini and Portobello Mushrooms and Syrah Wine Sauce

Here in the south we don't have a typical fall. Summer drags on into Indian Summer and then Fall slides in stealthily for a few weeks before bang - it is cold. So when the temperature drops in the slightest, as it did this week, I was ready with a favorite fall dish to compliment the nip in the air.

We invited friends over for the afternoon. You know this couple - they don't mind that your house is not perfectly clean and that the heathens are under foot - heck, they are right there on the floor reading the latest installment of the ToysRUs catalog with them and cow racing on Wii. Comfortable folks deserve comfort food, and this is one of my favorite dishes for just such an occasion. The recipe comes from this great cook book that I received from dear friend and fellow foody, entitled "The Wine Lover's Cookbook: Great Recipes for the Perfect Glass of Wine" by Sid Goldstein - I highly recommend picking up a copy if you can find it.

We started the day off with some olives, marinated artichokes and bruschetta while the kids ate their dinner and then once they were tucked in bed, made our own dinner.

Couple of notes: I have found it virtually impossible to find fresh porcini mushrooms, but the dried ones seem to be readily available in the super market. Most of the times I find them on the endcaps with other specialty items, in the produce section. If you can find fresh ones, jump on them - it really does enhance the flavor. I tend to use a broader variety of mushrooms then what is listed in the recipe. There are so many wonderful shrooms to choose from - take a look at what is available fresh at your local store and experiment.

The wine that you cook with should be one that you would be willing to drink with dinner as well. Don't skimp on this ingredient but don't break the bank. There are a nice variety of $10-$15 bottles of syrah our there that will be very good in the recipe. Alternatively you could also use a zinfandel if you have one that you like.

I buy a can of tomato paste, spoon it out a tablespoon at a time on to pieces of press and seal, seal up the packets and then freeze them in a bag. Then when a recipe calls for a tablespoon of tomato paste I don't have an open can sitting in my fridge waiting to get thrown away. Just peel off the press and seal, throw the frozen glob of tomato paste into the dish and watch it dissolve.

We served this with a toasted baguette, fresh arugula salad and fresh asiago cheese. For dessert we had dark chocolate covered strawberries and expresso.


Penne with Sausage, Porcini and Portobello Mushrooms, and Syrah
(makes 4 servings)

2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
12 ounces Italian sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices (I use Botto's Hot Italian Sausage)
11/2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
(1) package baby portobello mushrooms, chopped
3/4 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary or 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
crushed red pepper to taste (optional)
11/2 cups syrah
14.5 oz. can chopped tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried penne or other small dried pasta
Chopped pasta for garnish
Shredded asiago cheese

Soak porcini in hot water for 2 to 3 hours. Drain.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until good and hot. Saute sausage for 6 to 7 minutes, turning to brown on both sides. Remove with slotted
spoon, place on paper towels, and pat dry.

Add onions and garlic to pan and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add porcini, portobellos, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper, and continue sauteing for 3 to 4
minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer to reduce by half. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Add reserved sausage and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Carefully add penne to boiling water and cook according to package directions or until it is al dente (about 8 -10 minutes). Drain and return penne to pot. Add sauce to pasta and mix thoroughly. Add a handful of chopped parsley.

To serve, divide pasta among 4 large pasta or soup bowls. Garnish with freshly grated asiago cheese.

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