This Arm Work Out is Worth It
Read this first: CHOP EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU START TO COOK THIS ONE! This is a hands-on, all-in, no rest for the wicked type of recipe. If you stop stirring, it will burn. If you stop mixing, it will burn. If you stop combining, it will burn. Do you see a pattern here? This recipe is all about the steady flow of ingredients in and out of the pan to create a decadent sauce teaming with flavor. Are mushrooms really worth all this work, you ask? All I can say is, YES. And don't forget to pour yourself a glass of wine, I mean liquid motivation, before you start chopping. You're going to need it.
Hangry Timer: 30 minutes
Feeds: 4 people
What You Need:
For the ragu:
1/4 cup olive oil, separated
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled, finely diced
1 pound white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. thyme, chopped
2 tsp. sage, chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. all purpose flour
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, heated
Salt and pepper, to taste
A glass of wine for the chef☺︎ (optional)
For the penne:
1 pound penne pasta
2 Tbsp. butter
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste
What To Do With it:
Heat broth in a small sauce pan over medium low heat until it begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low, and keep warm while you cook.
Here's where the marathon stirring begins...
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add carrots and onions and cook, stirring well, until they begin to brown. Lower heat to medium, and season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking, and stirring low and slow until caramelized, about 5 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to skillet and turn heat back up to high. Add mushrooms, stirring well to coat with oil. Keep sautéing (aka more stirring) until mushrooms brown lightly, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add garlic, thyme, sage, and pepper flakes to mushrooms. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium, and add cooked carrots and onions back into the skillet along with tomato paste. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring. Mix in flour. Ladle in a cup of the hot broth, stirring, as sauce begins to thicken. Add another cup, and let sauce cook for another 5 minutes. Stir intermediately, making sure the bottom doesn't burn. Season to taste. Reduce heat to low and cover with foil to keep warm.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add penne, and cook according to the package instructions. Once finished, drain pasta in a colander. Melt butter in pot over medium heat. Once butter begins to get white and foamy, add garlic, letting it sizzle for 30 seconds. Then add pasta back in with parsley, mix well.
Congratulations, you're done stirring! Go ahead, pour yourself another glass of wine.
Serve penne topped with a healthy portion of your ragu sauce and parmesan.
Note: If you can use fresh pasta, do it! I like to go to Union Market and grab some Cucina Al Volo penne for this one. But if you do use fresh pasta, make sure you cook it according to their instructions. Fresh pasta takes less time to cook than boxed.