Last week as I was scrolling through a local online events calendar I saw that Habitat Housewares was having a recipe contest. I’ve not entered a recipe contest save for last week when my husband’s work hosted a chili cook-off. I disqualified my recipe after discovering my husband failed to start up the Crock Pot properly and the beans were still crunchy.
That being said, I was determined to redeem myself purely for my own satisfaction. This contest also had some sweet prizes, namely a $500 gift card to a fantastic kitchen supply store and a Le Creuset dutch oven, retailing at $230.
The contest was for an original pasta sauce recipe. One of the judges was head chef at Villa Nova, one of the only originally Italian-owned restaurants in Anchorage (most Italian places are owned by Greek families here). The other judge was a local food writer who is all about local foods. The third was a local celebrity with whom I once performed “The Rocky Horror Show” at a local gay bar. I knew I had a chance.
Turns out I won second place and scored a pretty awesome dutch oven. First place was a stunning creamy Alaska seafood sauce that was a perfect blend of flavors.
I hope you enjoy my second-place pasta sauce.
Wild Mushroom Marinara Sauce
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1.5 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
6 oz. baby Portobello or crimini mushrooms, sliced
½ cup chopped onion
8 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbs. red wine
1/3 cup reserved mushroom water
42 oz. crushed Italian tomatoes (1 ½ 28-oz. cans)
2 dried red chilies
2 tsp. sugar
1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 Tbs. fresh oregano, chopped
2 Tbs. butter
salt and pepper to taste
Boil 2 cups of water. Place the dried porcini in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Strain the mushrooms through a sieve and reserve the water. Roughly chop the porcini.
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high flame. Add the garlic, turn heat to medium and cook till garlic is lightly browned. Add the porcini, Portobello and onions. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt. Sauté till onions are soft and mushrooms have lost much of their liquid, about 10 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with the wine and a couple of tablespoons of mushroom water. Transfer to a saucepan and set over medium-high flame. Add the tomatoes, remaining mushroom water, chilies, sugar, basil, oregano and butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for an hour.
Pour over pasta of your choice, cooked al dente. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve alongside Italian sausage and steamed green beans.