Wild mushroom ragout with ziti

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

Let’s start with what is a ragout versus a ragu. After all we pronounce them the same. A ragu is a slow cooked Italian pasta sauce which usually contains meat and served exclusively with pasta. A ragout, on the other hand is a French style stew, that may or may not contain meat and can be served with any carbohydrate like pasta, couscous or polenta. However, both are slow cooked dishes, ones where the flavors from the meat or vegetable are extracted to enhance their flavors. Both dishes take time, take a deep knowledge of concentrating and manipulating flavors and lots of love. Mushrooms are the best vegetable for a ragout, in my opinion. They hold up to long cooking times and have a deep beautiful flavor that emerges with time. This dish is exactly that and then some. Aromatic, complex deep flavors are heightened by the wonderful pan sautéed garlicky pasta. This is a dish I could eat often.

Admittedly this dish takes time, not hard to make but takes time. The mushrooms are cooked delicately is a home made porcini (and I added dried shiitakes for added nuances) broth. The pasta is pan sauteed lightly in I have been fortunate enough to have had dinner at Chez Panise when David Tanis headed the restaurant. This restaurant with David, and a cadre of chefs defined California farm-to-table cuisine, elegant, light and popping with flavors and fresh ingredients. I have his cookbooks, follow his blogs and Insta page, you should too. I love this cookbook, and definitely need to cook more from it!

For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.


For the porcini broth:

1 bay leaf

2-3 slices of dried porcini and 2 dried shiitake mushrooms

1/2 a s,\mall onion, sliced

1 carrot, diced

Salt to taste

For the ragout:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 lbs mushrooms, mixed if possible, crimini, button, oyster, chanterelle or other, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

4-5 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried sage or 1 teaspoon fresh sage

1 tablespoon dried chili flakes, or to taste

w tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Porcini broth from below

Parmesan cheese

For the pasta:

1 pack ziti or any small tubular pasta or small pasta with ridges or grooves to catch the sauce

3-4 garlic cloves

1/2 cup parsley, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

To make the porcini broth:

Add all ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil. Gently sinner for 30 minutes. Cool and set aside. Remove the mushrooms and save for the ragout. Strain the other solids and discard keeping the broth. Can be made and frozen or set in the fridge for 2-3 days.

To make the ragu:

Add the oil to a deep wide pan and sauté the onions on medium heat till browned and well caramelized. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining oil and sauté the mushrooms with salt and pepper on medium high heat. Generally the mushrooms wilol,give out water that will eventually dry out and the mushroom will sauté to a rich golden color, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the garlic, thyme, sage, chili flakes, and tomato paste and mix well, saluting for an additional 2-3 minutes. Finely minced the dried mushrooms from the broth and add to the pan. Add back the onions and mix well.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir till the flour is mixed in and coats the mushrooms and is not visible. You should not have or see lumps in the pan. Add the strained broth and mix well. Simmer for about 10 minutes. If the sauce is too thick add some water to thin. Taste for salt and adjust consistence to a thick rich sauce. Note, this dish tends to thickens as it sits, add a dash of water to thin it out when you reheat.

To cook the pasta:

Cook the pasta as per the manufacturers instructions. Remember to leave it "al dante" we do not want them mushy and overcooked. When the pasta is almost ready, add the oil to a flat deep pan and stir fry the garlic on medium heat for 1 minute. You do not want the garlic to brown, just be cooked through. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water and the drained pasta and parsley. Mix through and cook for 30 seconds, the liquid should have evaporated. Serve immediately.

To serve:

Heat the ragout and ladle to the center of a large bowl or plate. Surround with the pasta and grate serve immediately with Parmesan cheese on the side for guests to grate on their own.

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