Mushroom Lover's Marinara
- A handful of dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 ounce)
- 1 cup chicken stock/poaching liquid from Poached Chicken
- 1/4 cup EVOO
- 1/4 pound guanciale or bacon, chopped
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 teaspoon marjoram or oregano (scant 1/3 palmful)
- 1 fresh chile pepper, such as Fresno, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried flakes
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup marsala or dry red wine
- One 28- to 32-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 cups passata or tomato sauce
- A few leaves of basil, torn, plus extra for garnish
- 1 pound bucatini or spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Grated pecorino cheese, for topping
Place the porcini mushrooms in a pot, cover with the stock and bring to a simmer. Reconstitute to tender, then remove with a slotted spoon and chop; reserve with the liquid.
Heat a tablespoon of EVOO in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the guanciale and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, add the remaining EVOO, a few turns of the pan, and add the cremini mushrooms to brown, 10 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, marjoram or oregano, chile, salt and pepper, stir 1 to 2 minutes, then add the tomato paste and stir a minute more. Add the marsala or wine and the reserved porcini stock, minus a few spoonfuls where grit may have settled. Add the porcini, guanciale or bacon and the tomatoes (break up tomatoes a bit); stir in the passata and, a few leaves of basil and simmer over low heat 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to thicken and combine flavors. Cool and store for a make-ahead meal. Reheat the sauce, covered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
To serve, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta, add salt and cook the pasta to al dente, reserving a cup of starchy cooking water just before draining. Return the pasta to the hot pot and add the butter and half of the sauce; toss to combine, adding some starchy cooking water if necessary to loosen the sauce. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls with the remaining mushroom marinara on top; garnish with lots of cheese.
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