Mushroom Ragu Pasta
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons dried porcini mushroom powder, optional (see Tip below)
4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 pounds mixed fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake and cremini, finely chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
3 shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup Pedroncelli port or Marsala wine
1 pound spaghettini or angel hair pasta
Add the stock, heavy cream, porcini mushroom powder (if using), 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves and 2 teaspoons salt to a large pot. Bring to a boil over high.
While the liquid comes to a boil, heat the oil over medium-high in a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet. Add the mushrooms, shallots, garlic and 2 teaspoons thyme leaves. Season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and tender, about 12 minutes. Add the port, and stir until the alcohol cooks off and the mixture is almost dry, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, set aside and cover to keep warm.
Add the pasta to the boiling cream mixture, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently with tongs, until the pasta is al dente and absorbs most of the liquid, and the sauce is silky, 6 to 7 minutes. (Stir constantly during the last couple minutes to ensure the pasta cooks evenly. Add a splash of water if needed to keep the mixture glossy.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to bowls, top with the mushroom mixture and the remaining 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, and serve immediately.
Tips: You can make porcini mushroom powder for a fraction of the cost of store-bought: Simply pulse chopped dried porcini mushrooms in a spice grinder until pulverized.
One ounce dried mushrooms will yield about 5 tablespoons mushroom powder, though you will need to pulverize the chopped mushrooms in smaller batches.