• ¾ cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon extra
  • 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms of your choice, thickly sliced
  • ¾ pound short dried pasta, such as rigatoni or penne
  • ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella (optional)

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Place the dried porcini in a bowl and cover with 1½ cups of boiling water. Let stand for 20 minutes, or until needed. Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking water. Check the porcini for grit and set aside. Strain the mushroom soaking water through a damp paper towel lining a sieve.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a pan over moderate heat. Stir in the flour and stir for 3 minutes. Off the heat, add the mushroom liquid all at once. Return to the heat and cook until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, stirring constantly. Stir in the stock (a little at a time) and thyme and gently simmer for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Check seasoning.

Meanwhile, melt the extra butter in a frying pan set over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushroom sauce and the reserved porcini, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of salted, boiling water until nearly al dente. Drain, reserving a small measuring cup of the cooking water. Stir the pasta into the mushroom mixture, adding a little of the cooking water to moisten, if necessary. Transfer the mixture to a lightly oiled baking dish and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbly and browned on top. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

Adapted from Loukie Werle’s, Italian Country Cooking