This flavorful dish is inspired by the mountainous region of Abruzzo, where you will find an abundance of porcini mushrooms. The recipe was developed, and written by Mario Batali. I have followed his method, and prepared it many times in my kitchen. He recommends using Farfalle, a pasta shape, commonly known as bow-ties, but it literally means, butterflies in Italian. You can also use other short pastas, such as Rotini, corkscrew-shaped as shown on my featured image. They both work well, and absorb the sauce nicely. It’s always a big hit in my kitchen, and perfect for feeding a small crowd. The name of the original recipe is: Farfalle Abruzzese With Veal, Porcini and Spinach. Mario brilliantly combines veal, double concentrated tomato paste, and porcini mushrooms to create this culinary masterpiece. Make sure you caramelize the tomato paste to get a rust color, and the result will be a stupendous rustic dish packed with layers of deep flavors. Make it for a dinner party, and your guests will think that the sauce has simmered for hours.
Farfalle Abruzzese with Veal, Porcini and Spinach
Excerpted from “Molto Batali” (ecco, 2011)
Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 as a main
Level of difficulty – medium
3 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups hot water for 10 minutes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 ½ pounds ground veal shoulder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup double-concentrated tomato paste *
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup basic tomato sauce (for quick results, try my Mario Batali pasta sauces)
1 ½ pounds farfalle pasta (butterfly shaped pasta)
8 ounces baby spinach, trimmed
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1. Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking liquid, and coarsely chop the porcini. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve, and set it aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until it is lightly toasted. Add the veal and the chopped porcini, and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the meat is well browned, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add the tomato paste. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the paste turns a rust color, 5 minutes. Then add the wine and 1 cup of the strained porcini soaking liquid, and cook for 5 minutes, until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Add the tomato sauce and reduce the heat to a very low simmer.
3. Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil in a large spaghetti pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.
4. Drop the farfalle into the water and cook for 1 minute less than the package instructions indicate. Just before the pasta is done, carefully ladle ¼ cup of the cooking water into the veal mixture. Stir the baby spinach into the veal mixture.
5. Drain the pasta in a colander, and add it to the veal mixture. Toss over medium heat for about 30 seconds, until the pasta is nicely coated. Pour into a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately, with the grated pecorino on the side.
From “Molto Batali”
* You can find the double concentrated tomato paste at Italian specialty stores. If not, use 1/2 cup of regular tomato paste, but remember, the secret is to caramelize it on high flame to obtain that deep rust color. (My notes)
My wine suggestion: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a delightful red wine from the Abruzzo region of Italy.
Recipe: Adaptation of Mario Batali’s: Farfalle Abruzzese With Veal, Porcini and Spinach
Photo credit: Foodiewinelover