Lamb and wild mushroom sauce*

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The black-staining polypore Kevin found at the side of the road was the size of a football, but only the outermost edges of the lobes were tender enough to eat, and it ended up being only a couple cups of mushroom. It had a wonderful, meaty taste that went well with lamb and sage.

Lamb and wild mushroom pasta sauce
(serves 2, amply)

½ lb. ground lamb
2 c. chopped wild mushrooms (see NOTE, below)
2 c. chicken stock
1 T. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
3 T. chopped sage
1/3 cup dry white vermouth
1 ounce goat cheese
1 c. frozen baby peas
heavy cream or half-and-half to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large skillet, sauté the ground lamb over medium heat just until it’s cooked through, about 4-6 minutes. Remove it from the pan and drain it. Pour off excess fat in the pan, but leave enough to sauté the mushrooms.

2. Sauté the mushrooms over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they soften significantly, about 10-20 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer about ten minutes, to continue softening the mushrooms (if your mushrooms are already quite tender, you don’t have to simmer them). Pour the mushroom mixture into a blender and blend it into a puree.

3. In the same pan, add the vegetable oil and chopped onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and sage and continue cooking another couple of minutes.

4. Add the vermouth and cook until it has almost evaporated. Add the mushroom puree, goat cheese, and lamb and cook until everything’s heated through. Add the peas, cream or half-and-half, and salt and pepper. Makes enough for about half a pound of pasta.

NOTE: I made this with our black-staining polypore and pureed it because, although the flavor was excellent, the texture was tough. The recipe works, though, with any strong-flavored mushroom. If your mushroom is a more tender variety, you need not cook it as long.

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