By now, you’ve noticed that your Pomodori e Vino cooks don’t provide actual recipes in these blog entries. We have three good reasons.
First, we honor the fact that Marcella owns the copyright to Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking – we don’t. The decision to toss these recipes into the public domain should be hers alone.
Second, we all own and love our copies of this beautiful book, and we think everyone else should have that same pleasure. We don’t want someone to be discouraged from buying the cow because we gave away free milk.
But most importantly, this blog is really about our shared journey; our discovery of new discipline; and our delightful experiences with Marcella’s teaching style. Selfishly, we would rather tell you how we react to, and feel about each dish. It's infinitely more satisfying than just discussing cups, teaspoons, ounces, and minutes.
Although we don't include the recipes themselves, sometimes the evocative elegance of Marcella’s descriptions of ingredients just begs to be quoted. And so is the case with the star ingredient of my dish for today.
On page 27 in the Fundamentals section is this opening paragraph for Dried Porcini Mushrooms.
“Even when fresh porcini - wild boletus edulis mushrooms - are available, the dried version compels consideration on its own terms not as a substitute, but as a separate, valid ingredient. Dehydration concentrates the musky, earthy fragrance of porcini to a degree the fresh mushroom can never equal. In risotto, in lasagna, in sauces for pasta, in stuffings for some vegetables, for birds, or for squid, the intensity of the aroma of dried porcini can be thrilling.”
And so was the case as I prepared my Tomato Sauce with Porcini Mushrooms.
I'm admitting that I'm from the school of big and bold. Even when it makes total sense, and is for my own good, restraint is difficult for me.
Just a touch of shallot and no garlic? Only two tablespoons of pancetta? Not even fresh chopped parsley?
I wonder to myself, "How many weeks into this project will I be before I no longer have the urge to throw in a kitchen sink or two?"
But for now I again trust Marcella. I let the porcini take their rightful starring role. And I am rewarded with flavor that has been enhanced, not upstaged, by its carefully chosen supporting cast.