Pappardelle with Mushroom Cream Sauce

I am definitely one of those people for whom cheese can improve an otherwise hopeless day. Add a quick béchamel and some succulent mushrooms, and dinner can form the basis of much needed self care. And in 2020, we can all use some more options for de-stressing and clawing back some comfort from a world which is right now both literally and figuratively on fire.

This recipe is rich and decadent, for all that it takes about 30 minutes to make (40 if you have to prep the mushrooms and shallots and grate the cheese). It can also be made ahead of time and refrigerated to reheat and enjoy when the time is propitious; just hold off on adding the cheese until you’re ready to serve.

To make pappardelle with mushroom cream sauce, you will need the following ingredients and equipment:

  • Eight ounces sliced cremini or portabella mushrooms
  • Six Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Two generous Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 Cups half and half
  • 1/2 Cup vegetable bouillon, warm
  • 1/2 Tablespoon mustard powder
  • One teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion and garlic powder
  • One or two shallots, finely chopped
  • Nutmeg, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Six to eight ounces pappardelle
  • Two ounces Parmesan or Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • A Dutch oven or other large pan
  • A saucepan for boiling water
  • A wooden spoon or spatula
  • Measuring spoons

Procedure:

In the Dutch oven, sauté the mushrooms and shallots in the butter on low heat until soft. Add the flour and begin stirring constantly. After a few minutes of stirring, the roux mixture of butter, flour, mushrooms, and shallots should be cohesive and the flour should turn brown.

This roux is ready to become a cream sauce.

Add the half and half to your roux, and bring the mixture back up to temperature, stirring gently. Then add the warmed vegetable bouillon. Continue stirring this béchamel regularly to prevent the flour separating from the cream. Once the sauce has started to thicken, add the pepper, nutmeg, mustard, onion and garlic powder, and paprika.

Fill your saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Once ready, add the pappardelle. While the pasta is cooking, stir it occasionally to prevent sticking.

Once your cream sauce has thickened, turn off the heat and let the sauce rest. When the pasta has cooked al dente, drain it and add it to your cream sauce. Mix thoroughly.

Garnish liberally with shredded Parmesan cheese or Gruyère, and serve immediately.

Cooking Notes:

If you don’t have half and half, you can use milk or a 1:1 mixture of vegetable bouillon and heavy cream.

Don’t lose heart if you lose track of your béchamel and the flour starts to separate or the sauce gets lumpy. Stir vigorously for one to three minutes to reincorporate the flour, and then try running the cream sauce over a broad silicone spatula or the back of a spoon to analyze its texture (or just try a spoonful yourself).

Monitor the overall consistency of the sauce throughout the cooking process: sometimes adding more liquid (slowly and carefully) and stirring to reincorporate can also help to stabilize your béchamel.

This recipe serves two. To reheat, place the Dutch oven on the stovetop on low heat. Stir occasionally to maintain consistency.

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