AP – Classic, slow-simmered ragù Bolognese isn’t a weeknight dinner option, but its tomato-free cousin, white Bolognese, certainly can be. This rustic sauce made from ground meat, aromatics and olive oil is no less traditional and gets on the table in under 45 minutes.
In the version from our book Tuesday Nights Mediterranean, which features weeknight-friendly meals from the region, we use Italian sausage for ease, as it already is well seasoned.
Though meat sausage would be the most typical, it has a fattiness that weighs down the dish.
Spiced turkey or chicken sausage, mild or sweet, is a lighter alternative that makes sense just after the holidays. Fresh sausage, not precooked, is key to the success of this recipe, as are dried porcini mushrooms.
They provide a meaty, umami-packed backbone of flavour that’s harder to achieve with fresh mushrooms. Rather than rehydrate the dried mushrooms before use, we save time by simmering them directly in the sauce, where they soften and release their richness – so you won’t lose any flavour by discarding the soaking liquid.
A small measure of heavy cream lends a rich, silky consistency. Wide noodles such as pappardelle or tagliatelle are ideal here, but fettuccine is good, too.
Just make sure to break the porcini mushrooms into small pieces and rinse them before stirring them into the sauce. Otherwise, you may be left with a ragù flecked with grit.
PASTA WITH SAUSAGE AND MUSHROOM RAGÙ
Start to finish: 40 minutes
Servings: Four to six
12 ounces dried pappardelle or tagliatelle pasta
Salt and ground black pepper
Three tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
One pound fresh turkey or chicken Italian sausage, casing removed
One medium yellow onion, finely chopped
One medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
Two medium garlic cloves, chopped
One ounce dried porcini mushrooms, broken into small pieces, rinsed and drained
Quarter cup heavy cream
One ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated, (half cup) plus more to serve
Half cup lightly packed fresh basil, roughly chopped
In a large pot, bring four quarts water to a boil. Add the pasta and one tablespoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
Reserve one-and-a-half cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain and return the pasta to the pot. Toss with one tablespoon of oil; set aside.
Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining two tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it into small bits, until no longer pink, three to five minutes. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, and half teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is lightly browned, five to eight minutes.
Stir in the mushrooms, then scrape up any browned bits.
Add one cup of the reserved pasta water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, four to five minutes. Add the cream and cook, stirring, for about one minute.
Pour the sauce over the pasta and add the Parmesan. Cook over medium, stirring often, until the sauce clings to the pasta, about two minutes; add reserved pasta water two tablespoons at a time if needed so the sauce coats the noodles.
Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the basil and additional Parmesan.