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Spaghetti with Mushroom Cream Sauce

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Serves four.

  • by Jennifer McLagan from Fine Cooking
    Issue 95

This easy pasta gets complex flavor from a combination of mushrooms (try a mix of cremini, shiitake, black trumpet, portobello, and chanterelle), cream, and a secret ingredient—tawny port.

  • 12 oz. dried spaghetti
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. mixed mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. tawny port
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley or 2 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving

Over high heat, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the package directions until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until it just begins to color, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, 3/4 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper and stir constantly until the mushrooms begin to release their liquid, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes more.

Add the port and stir to deglaze the pan. Add the cream and sour cream, bring to a simmer, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid reduces to a saucy consistency, about 2 minutes.

When the spaghetti is al dente, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain the spaghetti. Add the spaghetti and the reserved water to the sauce. Toss over low heat, sprinkle with the parsley or tarragon, and toss again to combine. If the sauce seems thin, continue to toss until it has thickened a bit. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Serve, sprinkling with the parmigiano at the table.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with a Romaine, Bacon & Tomato Salad with Croutons & Tarragon Vinaigrette

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 590; Fat (g): 26; Fat Calories (kcal): 230; Saturated Fat (g): 13; Protein (g): 17; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8; Carbohydrates (g): 71; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 520; Cholesterol (mg): 60; Fiber (g): 5;

Photo: Scott Phillips

There is a "secret ingredient" that can add depth to any mushroom dish: powdered dried mushrooms. I use dried protobello mushrooms and grind them to a fine powder in a coffee grinder. Adding a couple of teaspoons of this powder to any mushroom sauce makes all the difference. I also replaced the port with Marsala.

Way too rich with not enough flavour. I would make it again if I could figure out what it needed.

Fast and easy and adaptable but no depth of flavor. I felt as if it were missing something. My guess is a perfect mushroom saute would make this dish work best. I probably overcooked the shallots by cutting them too small and then putting them in a too hot pan. Then I stirred the shrooms too much so they weren't brown enough! Also didn't have port and used sherry instead. I used my favorite herb, tarragon, couldn't really taste it in the finished dish. I don't mind an entree with lots of calories if it is offset with lots of flavor...this dish didn't have that. I'll try it again but focus on the details.

Wow, really amazing dish. I made a big batch of this on a sunday and enjoyed it all week. Hands down the best pasta dish I've ever made. Great restaurant quality food.

I have followed this recipe twice. Quick, tasty with very few ingredients --- what's what I make during weekday when I am too tired to shop.

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