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For the pici:
2 cups semolina flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1¼ cups water
For the sauce:
½ oz dried porcini
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large or 2 small red onions, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small carrots, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large sprigs thyme
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
½ cup dry red wine (or white if that’s what you have open)
1 26 oz box or can chopped or crushed tomatoes
¼ cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter, melted
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 oz grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 fluffy cup)
Mix the semolina, flour, and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, combine thoroughly on low speed. Add oil to the water in a liquid measuring cup. With the machine running on low speed, slowly add the water mixture until dough comes together in one smooth mass. If there are still dry crumbly bits on the bottom of the bowl, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together. You want a fairly stiff dough. It shouldn’t be sticky at all. Change to the dough hook and beat a few minutes longer until it looks smooth and pliable. Remove from bowl, and knead about 20 times on the counter until nice and smooth. Set aside in a tightly covered bowl at room temperature for 1 hour.
Place the mushrooms in a 1-cup liquid measure. Pour boiling water over, filling the cup. Let stand until softened, about 15 minutes. Lift the mushrooms from the liquid and chop. Set aside, reserving the liquid.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat a large, straight-sided skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, carrots, celery, thyme sprigs, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and very soft. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and cook until the garlic is golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes longer.
Add sausage, and cook until browned, stirring and breaking up the sausage with a spoon, about 10 minutes. Add wine and cook until absorbed, 2-3 minutes. Add porcini liquid, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, and cook 45 minutes, until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
While the sauce is cooking, start rolling the pasta. Cut the dough ball in half, and cut one half into 4 pieces. Keep everything covered tightly under plastic wrap except for 1 piece. Line a baking sheet with a clean dishtowel, and sprinkle with semolina. Roll a piece of dough into a long rectangle about 2 inches wide, and about ¼-inch thick. Using a knife or bench scraper, cut off ¼-inch strips of dough. Roll, using your hands, into little snake-like pieces that taper at the ends and are slightly thicker in the middle. They should be about 4-5 inches long. It’s better if you don’t need flour- marble is the ideal surface. Unless it’s sticking, flour will make it harder to roll. Transfer to the baking sheet. Continue in this way until all the dough has been rolled out (now is the time to enlist some help, or turn on your favorite podcast), layering and sprinkling with more semolina as you go.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Salt generously, and add the pasta. Return to a boil, and cook, stirring, just until all the pasta floats to the top, about 2-3 minutes. Scoop out 1 cup pasta water, and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the sauce, stir well to coat. If it seems at all dry, add some of the pasta water. Transfer to a 3 qt. baking dish. At this point, you can cool and refrigerate, and bake the next day.
Heat oven to 375°. Remove baking dish from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before baking. Pour the heavy cream evenly over the pasta. Combine the breadcrumbs and butter in small bowl, and combine with the cheese. Sprinkle over top, and bake 35-45 minutes, until golden brown on top, and bubbling around the edges. Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.