MUSHROOM MARSALA WITH PENNE PASTA
This is so satisfying.
One of the things I love about this recipe is its versatility. It makes a lovely entrée or a sumptuous side, and it even steps in as a sauce when the pasta is omitted.
Sometimes I add chives for a boost of color. A little green just makes a more lively presentation.
|WHAT YOU NEED||WHAT TO DO||WHY|
|1 1/2 quarts water||In a 3-quart tri-ply saucepan bring pasta water to a rolling boil over high heat (6-8 minutes).||Turbulent water helps prevent gummy pasta.|
|2 tablespoons finely diced shallot (if a substitution is required, use 4 teaspoons minced green onion, white part only, plus 2 teaspoons minced garlic)||Meanwhile, prepare and set aside.
Tip: With shallot on its side, cut off and discard both ends. Cut in half from pole to pole; peel off any layers that look dry or tough; discard. Place cut sides down and slice to 1/8-inch, holding the pieces together as you work. Cut across slices to dice.
|A shallot looks like a tiny red onion. Its flavor is a cross between onion and garlic, and its texture is so fine that it virtually disappears into the sauce during cooking.|
|8 ounces button or crimini mushrooms, sliced||Set aside.
Tip: Brush off any soil from mushrooms with a pastry brush. Cut in half from top to bottom, place cut sides down and slice to 1/4-inch.
|Washing mushrooms makes them slimy.|
|4 ounces dry penne||Add pasta to the now boiling water; briefly stir to separate the pieces. When boiling resumes, reduce heat to hold at a low rolling boil until pasta is al dente (as per package). Strain thoroughly, return to the pan and cover with a lint-free dishcloth.||A cloth keeps pasta warm and moist without holding in excess cooking heat or steam.|
|1 tablespoon unsalted butter||Meanwhile, circulate butter in a 12-inch tri-ply sauteuse/everyday pan over medium heat to evenly coat the base. As it begins to foam (2-3 minutes), add mushrooms in an even layer. Cook until browned and liquid is released, turning just once half way through with a bamboo spatula (6-8 minutes total).||Mushrooms cooked undisturbed brown nicely. As they brown, they will give up enough moisture to keep them from burning. A bamboo spatula offers good coverage, and is gentle on cookware.|
|1/2 teaspoon thyme or marjoram
1/4 teaspoon tarragon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon roughly ground black pepper
1/32 teaspoon cayenne pepper
|Sprinkle seasonings and shallots over mushrooms. Cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).|
|1/2 cup Marsala (sweet, fine)||Drizzle 1/4 cup over mushrooms, let half evaporate (30-40 seconds). Drizzle remaining 1/4 cup, let half evaporate again (60-90 seconds).||Unnecessary stirring hurts mushroom texture.|
|1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
|Gently stir butter into the mushrooms to melt. Gently stir in the cream just until fully incorporated (20-30 seconds). Add pasta to the pan and gently toss until evenly coated. Serve in shallow serving bowls.||The final hit of butter and cream give beautiful body to the sauce.|
MUSHROOM MARSALA STEAK
If serving these mushrooms as a steak sauce, substitute starting the pasta water with heating the grill. Start searing the steaks on the grill while the sauteuse pan is heating. After the Marsala evaporation, follow with a drizzle of jus (French for “juice”) from the resting steaks; finish sauce as directed. Note: For a greater quantity of sauce, increase Marsala by 1/4 cup and heavy whipping cream by 2 tablespoons. Plate the steaks; spoon sauce attractively over top in a diagonal. Garnish with fresh chives for a livelier presentation.