Spaghetti with Porcini Ragu Sauce

Serves 4 (generous portions)

Rehydrating the dried porcini mushrooms:
Soak dried porcini mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. Then remove the mushrooms and strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter or very fine sieve to remove any grit. Set aside soaked mushrooms and filtered soaking liquid.

Making the sauce:
Heat a stockpot over medium-low heat and add 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add sliced onion and sauté until the onion is golden brown and soft, about 6–8 minutes. If cooking without oil, bring the pot to high heat and add the chopped onions, stirring constantly for a couple minutes to allow the onions to caramelize without burning and then reducing heat to proceed with the recipe.
Add the salt, bay leaf, and the herbs to the onion, followed by the grated carrot. Stir well, cover, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Then remove the onion mixture from the pot and set aside.

Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the stockpot and add the cubed beef. Over medium heat, brown the meat on all sides-for about 10 minutes. Remove the beef, pour off any excess fat (there won't be much, if any), and then add the filtered porcini soaking water, deglazing the bottom of the pan by loosing up any of the flavorful crusty bits that may have accumulated.

Add back the beef and onion mixture to the deglazing liquid in the stock pot, along with the soaked porcini mushrooms and the tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer mixture for 1-1/2 hours, adding the beans and bean cooking liquid during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Season with 1/2 teaspoon of finishing salt and serve the sauce over the spaghetti, garnishing with sliced black olives, if desired.

Substitute garbanzo beans, borlotti beans, or cranberry beans for the kidney beans.
Serve with linguine or farfalle pasta or with rice or farro.

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