Bolognaise-style mushroom ragu

This is an edited extract from Karen Martini's "New Kitchen", published in The Age on 26 April 2016. All her books are terrific. In her words: This is a rich and quite sophisticated mushroom ragu, especially if you're lucky enough to have access to some pine mushrooms, but big meaty field mushrooms will do just fine. The real key to this ragu is cooking the mushrooms first, which concentrates their flavour and adds roasted notes that you just can't get by sauteing them alone. Also, the dried porcini mushrooms add depth and umami punch to the fresh mushrooms that really cements the intensity of the sauce. Serve this with any pasta - gnocchi and pappardelle are my favourites - or layer unto a lasagne.

  • 600 gms large field mushrooms, cut into 3cm dice
  • 600 gms pine mushrooms (or any mushrooms you like, but not Asian ones), cut into 3cm dice
  • 120 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 20 gms dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely sliced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red or brown miso paste
  • 400 ml white wine
  • 800 ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 x 400 gm can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 100 gms pasta per person
  • grana padano, finely grated, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional). Add the fresh mushrooms to a roasting tray, drizzle over half the oil, season, toss to coat and roast for 20 minutes. Soak the porcini mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes. Dice the rehydrated mushrooms and reserve the water. Heat a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining oil, the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, bay leaves, chilli flakes and fennel seeds, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes - as the mushrooms sweat down they wil help to degalze the pan. Add the tomato paste and miso and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add the wine, diced porcini and porcini water and bring to a simmer. Add the stock, tomatoes and oregano and simmer for 45 minutes over low heat until the sauce is thick and intense. Adjust the seasoning to taste. To serve, cook the pasta according the packet instructions and toss the pasta through the ragu in the pan. Take the pan directly to the table and serve with plenty of grana padano on the side.


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