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Penne con Salsa Piacentina di Porcini e Pomodoro


Wine recommendation: This recipe, from Piacenza, is complemented by Gutturnio, a wine from the same soil. It is hearty and direct, with a mouthfeel that goes with the chewiness of the pasta, the slightly beefy sensation of the mushrooms and the lustiness of the tomato sauce.

Adapted from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (William Morrow & Co., 1992)
Number of Servings
Serves 4 as a main course; 6 as a first course.
* 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
* 2 cups hot water
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 2 tablespoons sweet butter
* 2 medium onions, minced
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 13 canned plum tomatoes, drained and crushed
* 1 3/4 cups cold water
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
* 1 pound imported Italian penne
* 6 to 8 quarts cold water
* Salt
* 1 wedge Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
For the sauce: Rinse porcini mushrooms carefully in cold water for no more than 20 seconds. Place mushrooms in a bowl and add hot water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Remove mushrooms from the water, lightly squeeze to drain, chop and reserve.

Combine the oil and butter in a 5- to 6-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced onion and reduce heat to medium-low. Sauté for 10-15 minutes, or until the onions are soft and clear. Stir in the garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes and cold water. Bring to a gentle boil. Partially cover, and cook for 25 minutes, or until the mushrooms are very tender and the sauce has thickened a bit. Add salt and pepper and stir well.

For the pasta: In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of cold water to a boil over high heat. Add a pinch of salt. Once the water returns to a full rolling boil, add the penne and cook, according to package instructions, until al dente. Drain and set aside.

To serve: Pour sauce over penne and toss until thoroughly combined. Serve in warm dishes. Pass the wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano with a grater so that each diner can add the desired amount of cheese.
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