The best meal I had in Belgium last fall was a sausage and mushroom pasta. It was one of those meals that you talk about for days. And days. And days. It was fabulous! I decided it was time to recreate that dinner at home...but make it week day friendly. The end result...huge flavor, little effort. I'm sure you're going to love this too.
1 pound pasta (we used whole wheat shells and spirals)
1 pound bulk Italian sausage, either hot or sweet (your choice)
2 cups baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced (or whatever mushroom you like)
1 cup Porcini mushrooms, reconstituted (see below)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups beef broth
Splash of milk, half & half, cream, whatever you have on hand
Parmesan cheese, grated to garnish
Parsley or Basil to garnish
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Salt and Pepper
Bring a large pot of water to boil, drop pasta and cook until al dente (7-8 minutes).
Meanwhile, over medium-high heat, heat a couple of tablespoons of EVOO. Once hot, add in sausage to brown (about 6 minutes). (Don't mess with it too much...let it brown and caramelize without you stirring it too often). Add in mushrooms and saute another 5 minutes. Add in onion and garlic and saute a few more minutes. Stir in beef stock and lots of S&P and de-glaze the pan (scrape up the little bits off the bottom of the pan), lower the heat to medium-low and simmer 3-5 minutes.
Drain pasta and add to sausage mixture. Stir in a splash of your cream. Stir in cheese and basil.
I just love, love, love this meal! Here are a few pointers for making it...first of all, pick whatever mushrooms you like. You just need about two big handfuls in your dish. I like baby Portobellos but you can use what you like. If you want to use Porcini mushrooms, here's what you do. They come in the mushroom section of your grocery store in a little packet. They will be dried when you buy them. About 30 minutes before you're ready to use them, you just soak them in warm water. Drain the water, squeeze the excess water out of the now plumped up mushrooms and you're good to go. They have an amazing flavor but you will need to reconstitute them before adding them in. It's really simple but if you don't want to mess with it, just skip it!
Also, don't salt your mushrooms until they're really brown. If you add salt to the pan before they have browned, they won't turn out great...they'll get soggy and gross. Hold off on the salt until they have browned and you add in your onions.
That's it! Enjoy your dinner!