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Penne in a Crock

Penne al Coccio

Of the short cuts of pasta, penne is a favorite of Tuscany and there are endless, easy preparations for sauces for them. Here is a favorite usually made in some sort of crockery and then served directly from it. This is a very rich first course; the sauce is made from cream, butter and truffle paste, all the elements for a company dish.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

2 ounces butter

4 ounces prosciutto, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

Grinding coarse black pepper

1 teaspoon black truffle paste

5 ounces fresh peas

1 pound penne pasta

1 cup heavy cream

4 ounces grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Directions

Put the mushrooms in a dish and cover them with warm water; allow them to plump up for 25-30 minutes. Drain them, coarsely chop them and set aside.

In a large earthenware pan or in a sauté pan melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the prosciutto and allow it to brown slightly. Stir in the mushrooms, salt and pepper and allow the mixture to cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the truffle paste. Cover the pan and keep it over low heat.

Cook the penne al dente in 4 quarts of boiling water to which 1 tablespoon of salt has been added. Drain the penne and stir them into the sauce. Over very low heat stir in the cream and half of the cheese. The sauce should be creamy. Serve the penne directly from the pan. Pass the remaining cheese to sprinkle on top along with a grinding of black pepper.

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