CLASSIC pasta tortellini with porcini mushroom sauce








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The beauty of form and the delight of taste make tortellini, and also cappelletti, a special joy and a culinary treasure.

Many of us are lucky enough to be able to buy fresh home-made egg pasta, including tortellini, from a local source (we are not talking supermarket here). For those of us who are that fortunate, we have available an almost instant wonderful dinner.

This recipe prefers tortellini that are cheese filled (with four cheeses).

This is a recipe for four people.

for the sauce:

  • three tablespoons sweet butter
  • one ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • one cup chopped shallots
  • four teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • one tablespoon chopped pancetta
  • one-half cup heavy, whipping cream
  • one-half cup (or more) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (to one's taste)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper.

for the pasta:

  • 44-50 or so freshly made tortellini (give or take either way)

(if using purchased tortellini an eight ounce package should do fine)

Soak the porcini mushrooms in two cups of hot water for fifteen minutes. Drain, saving the liquid. Coarsely chop the mushrooms.

Heat 3-4 quarts of cold water to a raging boil, add a tablespoon or so of salt, drop in the tortellini, and stir.

Meanwhile, in a saute pan over medium heat, add the butter and let it melt. Add the shallots and cook for a few minutes, until the shallots are soft. Add the mushrooms and half the thyme, and saute for two minutes. Add one cup of the reserved mushroom liquid, the heavy cream and  cook until the cream is reduced -- maybe in half, but mostly judge by how much sauce you want to coat the tortellini. Then take off the heat. Add a half teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper and stir.

Meanwhile, test the doneness of the tortellini by taking one out, clipping off an edge, and tasting. When the texture is truly al dente, drain.

Return the sauce in the sauté pan to medium heat. Add the pasta very gently. Toss, also gently. Add the cheese, tossing thoroughly as you are adding.  We then cover the pan and cook over high heat for one minute, to get the pasta really hot and steaming.

As always, serve immediately on warmed plates or bowls with the extra thyme sprinkled on top.


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