Start by getting all your ingredients prepped before you start cooking. If you are serving this sauce with a pasta, get your water boiling.
Heat up a large fry pan over medium heat before you start adding ingredients. I like to use a very large pan so I can add the pasta to the sauce rather than the other way around. If you don’t have a large enough pan, you can always combine the pasta and the sauce in a large bowl.
When the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of each the butter and the olive oil. When that gets hot but is not smoking or burning, add the pancetta and cook for a few minutes until the Italian bacon is slightly browned. Don’t burn the pancetta!
Next add the mushrooms and cook until they soften up. Mushrooms release a lot of liquid in the pan and cook down to nothing. You may be very surprised to see the difference in volume before and after you cook the mushrooms. Don’t worry, there will be plenty to give this sauce a great flavor. This should take about 6 – 8 minutes.
When the mushrooms are just about soft, push them to the sides of the pan and make some room in the middle of the pan for the onion. First add the other tablespoons of butter and oil, then the diced onion and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and fresh thyme and cook an additional 2 – 3 minutes.
Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Now add the cream, crank up the heat to high and bring the cream to a boil. Don’t be afraid to let the cream come to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and let the sauce simmer. Here’s a good time to add the hot pepper flakes if you are using them.
You want to reduce the sauce to a consistency of your liking. You don’t want the sauce to thin but you don’t want it to thicken either. I find if it gets too thick, I can thin it with a little of the pasta water but try not letting it get to that point. Cookbooks will tell you to cook it until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Good advice but you should choose what’s best for you.
Remember, you are going to add 1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and that will also help to thicken up the sauce.
Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
When the pasta is done and if your pan is big enough, add the pasta to the sauce and gently stir with a large kitchen spoon. You want to coat the pasta with the sauce and then serve. I like to have a little extra Parmesan cheese to serve at the table if people want it.
You can transfer the pasta and wild mushroom sauce to a large bowl and serve it family style or plate individually. Again, it really has more to do with how you are serving it. Enjoy!