Sunday, November 25, 2012

Crema di Funghi (Mushroom Cream Sauce) via Arthur Schwartz, "Naples at Table"

My son and I had a terrific meal at Naples 45 in New York City this past Monday.

I had a wonderful wild mushroom sauce with pasta.

Inspired, I decided to make one myself. It was delicious!


Schwartz writes:

"I first encountered this rich and silken sauce at Cumpa Cosimo, Netta Bottone's restaurant in Ravello, but a puree of mushrooms like this has become fashionable in the region. Netta calls her sauce a "cream" sauce even though it has no dairy products, but I've eaten other versions that are, indeed, enriched with a little cream. In either case, it is elegantly smooth and appropriate for a fancy dinner party---or just when you want to pamper yourself with something smooth and lush.......Ditali is a good shape for this sauce......farfalle and gemelli....thin spaghetti would not be out of line, either.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup ectra-virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, lightly smashed
1 1/2 pounds white mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced (I used Baby Bella)
3/4 teaspoon salt
Optional: 2 tablespoons Marsala (I used it)
3/4 cup hot pasta cooking water
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Optional: 2--3 tablespoons heavy cream (I used it)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 heaping tablespoon finely cut parsley (I used a wee bit more)
1 pound pasta (I used fettuccine)

Directions:

1. In a 10-inch skillet, combine the olive oil ad garlic over medium-low heat and, pressing the garlic into the oil a couple of time to release it flavor, cook until the garlic is soft and lightly golden on both sides. Remove and discard the garlic.

2. Increase the heat to medium and add the mushrooms. Cook, tossing almost constantly, until they give off their liquid. Add the salt and Marsala. Raise the heat to high and continue cooking, still mixing almost constantly, until all the liquid has evaporated. Measure out 3/4 cup of the mushrooms and set aside.

3. Place the remaining mushrooms in the jar of a blender. Have the grated cheese, the cream, the pepper, and the parsley ready at hand to finish the sauce.

4. Cook the pasta until al dente in plenty of salted water, and just before draining it, scoop out a cup of the pasta boiling water. Drain the pasta.

5. Pour 3/4 cup of the pasta water in the jar of the blender with the mushrooms and process the mushrooms into a smooth cream. Add the grated cheese. Process another couple of seconds to blend. If the sauce is too think, add a little more pasta cooking water. Finally, whirl in the cream and black pepper. Taste for salt.

6. Toss the pasta with the mushroom cream sauce and the parsley. Garnish each serving with the reserved sliced mushrooms.

7. Serve immediately in heated bowls with extra grated cheese.

Arthur Schwartz

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