Thursday, June 14, 2007

Penne with Dried Porcini, Tomatoes and Cream

I've wanted to try this pasta sauce for a while now - indeed it caught my eye when I first flicked through River Cafe Pocket Pasta Book but until this week I had never quite done it. We were in France for the weekend so no shop at Borough this week so not much fresh food in the house so definite need for creativity from the stockpile. One downside to shopping with such regularity at Borough Market is your standards are very high and then, when I haven't been for the week I scrabble about a bit for great meals till the next visit. I do have a well stocked freezer - meat, stock, noodles and bits and pieces, lots of stuff in the cupboard like pasta and lentils and tinned things but there is a gap in the middle of fresh fruit and veg. I do buy some from a local shop or the supermarket but the difference in quality is noticeable. Not to mention that Waitrose charges more for spinach and parsley than Booths or Tony at the market.

So this was a good option for mid week. I had penne, tinned tomatoes, dried porcini, dried chillies as always. I also had a tub of cream in the freezer from an earlier abandoned idea and a block of Parmesan in the fridge. I had the basics were in place. I had fresh garlic I'd bought in the market in France. Full of resentment I paid 75 pence for a tiddly few stalks of flat leaf parsley from Sainsbury's because neither the fruit shop nor Terroni's had any. Then I set about making dinner. It took longer than I thought it would - a bit over 90 minutes. Not in itself a problem, but this was dinner after I came in at 8 from my french class so starving by the time it was made!

Lucky it was so very much better than good.

Penne with Dried Porcini, Tomatoes and Cream
350g penne
50g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 150ml hot water for 15 minutes
400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes, drained of the juice
100ml double cream
80g unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 dried red chilli, crumbled
2tbs flat leaf parsley finely chopped
50g Parmesan, freshly grated

Drain the porcini, keeping the soaking water. Rinse the now soft porcini in a sieve under a running tap to remove any grit. Strain the soaking liquid through a sieve lined with kitchen paper.

Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan and add the garlic, chilli and parsley. Fry gently until the garlic is soft, then add the porcini. Stir and cook for 2 minutes, then add the soaking liquid a little atg a time - it will be absorbed very quickly. Continue cooking until all the liquid is absorbed and the porcini are soft and juicy. Add the tomatoes, chop them up into the porcini and cook over a medium heat for at least 30 minutes till the sauce thickens. Season. Stir in the cream, turn up the heat and boil for 2 minutes to combine the flavours.

Cook the penne in boiling water until al dente. Drain, add to the sauce and toss. Stir in half the Parmesan and serve with the remainder.

Well worth waiting for.

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