After receiving a pot of Porcini Mushrooms for Xmas (Santa has good taste), I knew they would come into good use at some point soon. So while sat watching morning TV, full of a cold and feeling thoroughly miserable, ‘The Good Cook’ with Simon Hopkinson came on and after a few minutes he started cooking this dish. It was just the recipe I was after and something that would make me feel a whole lot better after eating it
Now, after family praise for the Seafood Curry, the reaction to this dish was even better! I got a “now you really must cook this again soon – really yummy” comment. I have to agree and it is definitely my kind of comfort food and so simple to make. What was really nice was the contrast in flavours between the earthy nutty taste of the porcini and the cured sweeter taste of the pancetta along with the pasta, sauce and salty parmesan – perfect combination.
500ml/18fl oz milk
20g/¾oz dried porcini mushrooms
25g/1oz plain flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g/2oz pancetta, cut into 2cm/1in pieces
4-5 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
2. Warm the milk in a saucepan, add the porcini mushrooms, remove from the heat and soak for 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve suspended over a bowl, pressing lightly on the mushrooms with the back of ladle to extract all the milk.
3. Heat the butter in a clean saucepan, add the flour and stir over a low heat for 2-3 minutes without colouring the roux.
4. Pour in the porcini-flavoured milk all in one go and whisk together vigorously until smooth. Cook the sauce for a further 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.
5. Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain in a colander, tip into a roomy bowl and carefully stir in the sauce, porcini and pancetta until well combined.
6. Place the pasta into a lightly buttered oven-proof dish. Smooth the surface and cover with two tablespoons of the parmesan. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbling around the edges and golden-brown.
7. Serve the dish piping hot at the dinner table and have extra cheese at the ready.