Mushroom Sauce
Rigatoni with Thick Mushroom Sauce
Mezze Maniche al Funghi Grattati

This delicious rich, thick Mushroom Sauce is a classic from a real Italian grandmother whose recipe appears in the cookbook, Nonna's Kitchen.  My church loved it when I brought the sauce to Spaghetti Night.  I used spaghetti noodles since that's what I had.  And I added fried sage leaves for a tasty crunch on top.  

10 fresh sage leaves* (optional)

1 lb. fresh mushrooms, preferably brown, cremini or portobello

1 tablespoon Butter Olive Oil or butter

3-4 tablespoons Wild Mushroom & Sage Olive Oil

2 garlic cloves, cut in half

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 chicken bouillon cube

1 1/2 finely chopped flat leaf parsley (or chives)

1 lb. short tubular pasta such as rigatoni

Salt

Freshly grated Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese for serving

Clean the mushrooms with a moist paper towel or mushroom brush.  Grate them into a bowl.

Heat the oils (or butter if you're using butter) to medium high in a large Dutch oven or sauce pan.

Optional step:  Fry the whole sage leaves in the oil until they shrink up a bit and crisp, about 1 minute.  Scoop out and place on a paper towel to drain.  

Lower the heat to medium and add the grated mushrooms, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Saute the mushrooms until the liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and bouillon cube, and cook over high heat for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the heat and discard the garlic cloves if you wish.  Add the parsley and set aside while the pasta finishes cooking.  Taste for salt -- you might not need any since the bouillon cube may provide enough.

While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add salt; the water should taste like the sea.  Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions.  Drain the pasta and toss it into the pan with the sauce; mix together and continue cooking 1-2 minutes to combine flavors.  

Serve with the cheese and the fried sage leaves if using.