Simon Hopkinson has accumulated much respect over his years in the cookery industry, but he maintains a low profile. One of his early cookbooks, Roast Chicken and Other Stories, was voted the most useful cookbook of all time in 2005, causing its sales to suddently outstrip Harry Potter. The funny thing was that Hopkinson had written the book 11 years earlier. He is praised for recipes that really work, which the home cook can understand and more importantly, replicate.
Now he has a series on Fridays on BBC, simply called The Good Cook. While watching the very first episode, a recipe for Porcini and Pancetta Pappardelle Bake caught my fancy. It looked simple, but the promise of a rich flavour from the use of dried, earthy porcini mushrooms promised something special. I decided to make the dish using rigatoni (the best dried pasta I had in my cupboard).
Additionally, I substituted some Irish bacon for the pancetta, but otherwise I used the same quantities as given in Hopkinson's recipe. For future reference, I would make extra sauce if using rigatoni again, as the sauce seeped into them.
|Pasta Bake with Porcini and Pancetta|
Baked Pappardelle with Porcini and Pancetta
20g dried porcini
25g plain flour
Salt & freshloy ground black pepper
50g pancetta, cut into 2cm pieces
4-5 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
Preheat your oven to 190C.
Place the milk in a saucepan bring close to the boil. Add the porcini mushrooms, remove from the heat, and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Strain the milk into a bowl of jug, squeezing out all the juice from the mushrooms. Keep the mushrooms to one side. At this stage the milk will be fabulous, mushroom colour.
Heat the butter in a clean saucepan, add the flour and stir over a low heat for 2-3 minutes without colouring the roux. Pour in the flavoured milk in one go, whisking continously until smooth. Cook the sauce for 10 minutes or so until thickened. Season to taste and set aside. (Remember that there is still pancetta to be added).
Bring a large pot od salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Strain, place in a bowl and mix through with the pancetta, porcini and sauce. Pour the pasta into a lightly-buttered, ovenproof dish. Flatten and cover with 2 tablespoons of the parmesan. Cook in the oven for approx 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Serve hot with extra cheese.