Monday, April 16, 2012

Pappardelle with Roasted Mushrooms in a San Marzano Tomato-Cream Sauce


Every year, my husband and I drive up to the beautiful town of Hot Springs, Arkansas for spring break. We love walking the scenic promenade, antique shopping, and spending a few nights at the historic B Inn. (Hi, Joseph and Armando!) On top of its other virtues, Hot Springs has really great food. We always hit up Central Park Fusion each trip to enjoy some high class eats, Cafe 1217 for frilly lunch fare, and head downtown to the Brau Haus for beer and bratwurst. This year, we broke our routine and tried out Bohemia Continental Cuisine just north of the strip. Despite its unassuming exterior, Bohemia churns out some of the best food I've ever tasted. It's so good, in fact, that I declared my pasta dish the most amazing thing I'd ever put in my mouth and begged to go back again the next day.

True story.

So naturally, the first thing I did when I got home was start wracking my brain to figure out how I was going to replicate that glorious meal. After many late night dates with Google, I finally put together an experimental recipe and busied myself in the kitchen. The trial run was a huge success. My husband even told me that it was a dish he'd have been proud to serve his Sicilian grandmother, which is the biggest compliment he could have given me.  And despite its pretty presentation and complexity of flavor, this is an easy, forgiving recipe- perfect for sending a big fat neener-neener to anyone who's been doubting your cooking ability. :-)

A few notes: My local grocery store carried only whole San Marzano tomatoes. Feel free to use diced tomatoes if they are available. If you'd rather not break out a blender, you can opt to pulse the tomatoes in a food processor a few times or even break them up with a wooden spoon. For a thicker sauce, drain some or all of the tomato juice.

Pappardelle with a San Marzano Tomato-Cream Sauce

Serves 8
Sauce recipe based on the Prince George Citizen

INGREDIENTS
1 tbsp olive oil
3 oz diced pancetta
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes
½ tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp dried pepper flakes
2/3 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
1 lb pappardelle or other wide pasta, cooked according to package directions
Shredded Parmesan, romano, or asiago cheese
Roasted mushrooms, recipe follows

DIRECTIONS
1. Place tomatoes in a blender and pulse until only fine chunks remain. Set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Swirl to coat bottom of skillet. Add pancetta and shallots and saute until prosciutto begins to brown, about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Add garlic, tomatoes, and sugar to the skillet and bring mixture to a boil. Scrape the bottom of the skillet to loosen any browned bits. Lower heat and simmer until color darkens and sauce thickens, approximately 15-20 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.

4. Add basil, thyme, oregano, dried pepper flakes, and heavy cream. Stir to combine. Allow mixture to come to a simmer. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

5. Toss pasta with sauce. Top with roasted mushrooms (recipe below) and shredded cheese of choice.

Roasted Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS
1 lb cremini mushrooms
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 400. Wash mushrooms and dry well. Trim stems and halve mushrooms. Place mushroom pieces in a gallon-size Ziploc bag and drizzle with olive oil. Close bag and shake vigorously to coat. Place pieces in a single layer on a nonstick cookie sheet. Season well with salt and pepper.

2. Place pan in the preheated oven and roast for 30 minutes, flipping mushrooms every 10 minutes.

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