While traditional ragù alla bolognese has a special place in my heart (and stomach), this mushroom variation is a delicious and satisfying alternative. For a vegetarian diet, the pancetta can be omitted entirely.The recipe makes 8 cups of sauce and is easily halved for a smaller yield. The sauce can be made several days in advance, through step 5, refrigerated, and gently reheated before finishing with the cheeses and herbs.
1poundfresh mixed mushrooms(such as button, cremini, and shiitake), coarsely chopped
1/2teaspoonground black pepper
2garlic cloves, minced
1/2cupdry red wine
56ouncescanned crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2tablespoonsfresh oregano leaves, torn
1/4cupfresh basil leaves, torn
1/2cupgrated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2teaspoonfreshly grated nutmeg
Soak dried chanterelle and porcini mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. Strain liquid through a coffee filter and set aside. Rinse mushrooms thoroughly, dry, and coarsely chop.
Heat olive oil in a stock pot or braisier over medium heat. Sauté celery, carrots, and onion 10-12 minutes until softened and just beginning to brown. Add pancetta and continue to sauté until pancetta is lightly crisp around the edges and the fat begins to render.
Add fresh mushrooms, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and chopped reconstituted mushrooms and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add red wine to the pan and scrape up any brown bits that have accumulated on the bottom and sides. Add tomato paste and reserved mushroom soaking liquid, stirring to combine for 1-2 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes.
Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer, 40 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and stir in fresh oregano, basil, mascarpone, Parmigiano Reggiano, and grated nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss sauce with pappardelle or tagliatelle, adding a few spoonfuls of reserved pasta cooking water to thin the sauce as needed.