This pasta dish is inspired by the region of Abruzzo, among the most mountainous regions in Italy and home of some of the country’s most interesting cooking. In the forests of Abruzzo, foraging reigns supreme. And because mushroom season lasts a little longer than it does elsewhere, we have porcini galore for winter ragus.
The brilliance of this dish is the combination of veal, mushrooms and doppio concentrato tomato paste. Together, the three create a depth of flavor more often achieved by reducing sauce for hours on end. The secret is the umami in the dried mushrooms. I chop the porcini finely and incorporate them into a simple ragu of ground veal and tomato paste. But the important factor is the concentrated flavor of the tea created when soaking the dried fungus in hot water.
I use farfalle — literally “butterflies” — because they hold up to the hefty condiment, but even penne will do. This recipe just might eclipse chicken soup as our go-to comfort food this holiday season.
Mario Batali is the owner of Babbo, Lupa, Otto and other renowned restaurants. His latest book is “Molto Batali,” published by Ecco.