With all of the time spent reading and cooking from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" these days, I haven't cooked many of my own recipes. But a few nights ago, in the mood for comfort food, I decided to make a simple marinara sauce with mushrooms over pasta. Julia claims that learning French techniques improves your skill in other regional cuisines as well. So I put them to work on this Italian classic. My old recipe is now a sad and distant memory. This is absolute, lip-quivering bliss.
2 shallots, minced
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 cup mini Portabella mushrooms, stems removed
1 15-ounce can whole plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon herbs de provence
8 ounces pasta, cooked al dente
Freshly grated parmesan
Melt two tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat and cook the shallots for about five minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Turn the heat up slightly and add the red wine. Cook off the alcohol briefly, then add the tomatoes and herbs.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat and brown the mushrooms. You may have to do this in two batches so as not to crowd them. When each is a beautiful golden brown on each side, add to the marinara. Break them up with a wooden spoon, then allow the sauce to simmer on low heat for about 15 more minutes. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve with pasta and freshly grated parmesan cheese.