Most of the mushroom ragù I’ve cooked in my life have been sliced mushrooms. I would tan them and work from there. Eventually this type of sauce fell out of rotation and I didn’t think much about it. Other sauces took their place and I have never looked back. It wasn’t until I saw an early edition of Andrea Gentl’s “Cooking with Mushrooms” that mushroom ragù became a fixture in our home again. Andreas Ragù contains a mixture of very finely chopped fresh mushrooms. Slowly cooked in a low oven for hours, it features all sorts of wonderful wildcard ingredients that add layers of depth and flavor – nutritional yeast, fish sauce, mushroom powder, chilies and herbs. You should buy her book and definitely make her version (vegan fish sauce goes great with it if you’re vegetarian). It’s one of my favorite ways to spend a lazy Sunday.
When a lazy Sunday isn’t quite in sight, I regularly find myself doing what I consider to be my “cheat version” of the rneedle. It happens when I know I’m a little short on time or running out of certain ingredients – that’s the recipe you see here. It’s thick, hearty, and the perfect accompaniment to a range of pastas, polenta, and the like. I love it enough to always have it in my freezer these days.
Secrets to Making a Great Rneedle
In general, I feel like there are two main secrets to making a great Mushroom Rneedle — quality ingredients and patience. For ingredients, choose mushrooms that are firm and dry. Avoid mushrooms that are discolored, mushy, or wrinkled. It probably goes without saying, but mushrooms that have an unpleasant odor or are somehow slimy should also get a pass. Awesome, I know. Patience kicks in on the cooking front. This rneedle begins to fry rapidly on the stovetops, and then moves slowly and slowly in the oven in a couple of hours.
By searing rneedle Ingredients on a stovetop followed by a few hours in the oven gives you a thick, beautifully concentrated, hearty sauce. I love the combination.
Mushroom Ragù: core ingredients
There is quite a bit of flexibility here. Try the recipe as directed, then change it up a bit depending on what you have in your kitchen. For example, I used scallions (with the green parts) when I ran out of onions, and really loved that version too.
- tomatoes: I tend to have chopped tomatoes on hand, so I use them here more often than not. Canned fire roasted tomatoes are my go-to choice, but standard mashed tomatoes are fine if that’s what’s available. In Andrea’s version, she lets you puree whole canned tomatoes into a puree. Each choice brings something different to the rneedleso feel free to experiment!
- Mushrooms: I talked a bit about the importance of mushroom quality in the previous section. Here I will talk about types of mushrooms that work well. I love using a mix of spicy mushrooms all in one Ragu so. You can mix the mushroom types based on availability in your area. I rarely use the same combination twice. Oyster mushrooms are fleshy and firm and retain their consistency in the sauce. Due to the sheer amount of mushrooms required for Arneedle, it’s a good approach to complement common (and less expensive strains) with something more special and unusual. In general, cremini, oyster, portobello, maitake, and button mushrooms are a good place to start.
- mushroom powder: Porcini mushroom powder is a powerful ingredient and adds Depth and an extra layer of flavor beyond the fresh mushrooms. They double the taste. I know it can be tricky to track down, but it’s an ingredient I wouldn’t skip here. You can grind your own dried porcini mushrooms into a powder using a high-speed blender. Because this has become such a go-to sauce for me, I tend to stock up on porcini powder, either homemade or from a trusted source like Far West Fungi.
How to clean mushrooms
It’s important to clean mushrooms that you will be using for cooking. Nobody loves a gritty sauce. Use a damp rag or paper towel to gently wipe away any dirt or debris from the mushrooms. Also cut off the stems, they often look a bit rough.
Mushroom Bolognese sauce: Make it creamy!
You can make this rneedle creamy or not – both variants are incredibly good. For the creamy version, stir 1 cup of whipping cream (or cashew cream) into the rneedle before it goes into the oven. Whether I add it or not depends on how I envision using the sauce. Keep in mind that the cream component cuts the acidity of the tomatoes beautifully in the sauce. I always use it when I’m going to use the rneedle in a lasagna, over polenta, and in most baked pasta. Skip it or scale back if using the rneedle alongside a cheese ravioli or something already creamy. You can also decide how creamy you like it – with less or more cream depending on your taste. Actually, I prefer to use cashew cream in this Rneedle, partly because I don’t often have cream on hand. But also because the cashew cream is so luxurious and rich, subtly nutty and so good. Also, I always have cashews on hand so I never have to go to the store. You can use both!
There are countless ways to enjoy a good Champignon-Rneedle. This list includes some of my favorites.
- lasagne: Use this mushroom Ragù in your next lasagna. I love it between sheets of homemade pasta alternating with blobs of ricotta, baked until bubbly. A few simple components that come together to create perfectly baked pasta. Something like this lasagna, substitute the mushroom rneedle for the other tomato sauce and use ricotta in place of most of the mozzarella. We freeze slices of it to warm up on stormy nights in the Airstream. It heats up great.
- polenta: This mushroom rAgù served over a creamy, hot bowl of polenta is a match made in heaven. She introduces them in Andrea’s Cooking With Mushrooms book Ragù in a beautiful photo served over polenta.
- Stuffed mussels: Swap out the tomato sauce called for in this stuffed mussels recipe for mushrooms Rneedle
- pappardelle: This sauce goes wonderfully with pappardelle. You can time warp and freeze both components. Defrost the mushroom and heat rneedle To serve and cook the pappardelle straight from the freezer.
- Pizza: Use this favorite pizza dough recipe to make a few rounds of dough and use this ragù as your sauce – Go with toppings from there.
- Homemade pasta: I’m calling pappardelle above, but this sauce pairs beautifully with a range of pasta shapes. More than anything, I just want to encourage you to try your own homemade pasta. It’s totally doable, and you might have the short list of ingredients in your kitchen right now!
These are two variations I’ve been enjoying lately.
- Vegan Mushroom Rneedle: Use cashew cream, not whipped cream. For the cashew cream, in a high-speed blender, puree 1 cup raw cashews with 1 cup water until silky smooth.
- mushroom Rneedle with curry leaves and lemon: I’m making an Indian inspired version of this rneedle with fresh green chilies, lots of fried curry leaves, mustard seeds and lemon zest. It probably warrants a separate dedicated recipe post, but if you’re a confident cook, the following is. Heat 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil in a small saucepan, you will make a kind of tadka. Add two chopped serrano chiles to the oil and sauté for a few minutes. Add 40-50 fresh curry leaves, stir well and cook until crispy – a few minutes. Finally, stir in 1 tablespoon of black mustard seeds. Cook until they start to pop a little. Strain the curry leaves and solids onto some kitchen towels and mix with the zest of one lemon. Use the curried olive oil as a substitute for the olive oil needed in the mushroom ragu recipe below. Stir in the curry leaves at the end or reserve to top what you’re serving with the Rneedle.
Mushroom Ragù: storage
I always have a few “stones” from Ragù ready in my freezer. They also make a great substitute for blocks of ice to keep our cooler cold when we’re out and should be added to my list of favorite camping recipes. Freeze it in your preferred shape and quantity, then store frozen for up to a few months. Thaw, reheat and use.
If you’re looking for something a lot quicker, try this Five Minute Tomato Sauce. Other related recipes include: homemade pasta, pappardelle, gnocchi, pesto, and the pizza dough recipe I’ve been honing for a long time. Here you will find more pasta recipes and more mushroom recipes. Enjoy!
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