Penne With Gorgonzola, Mushrooms (Porcini ) And Pancetta

Penne With Gorgonzola, Mushrooms (Porcini ) And Pancetta


12.3oz / 350g Penne (or pasta of choice)

3/4 cup / 180ml Double/Heavy Cream, at room temp

5.3oz / 150g Pancetta, diced (can sub bacon)

5.3oz / 150g Mushrooms, sliced (I use Chestnut Mushrooms)

3.5oz / 100g Gorgonzola, diced into large chunks

1 Leek, trimmed and diced (see notes)

2 tbsp Unsalted Butter

Salt & Pepper, to taste


In a large pan over medium heat add pancetta. Fry for a few mins until it starts to leak fat and JUST begins to brown, then add mushrooms. Continue frying until the mushrooms soften and begin to brown, then add your diced leek.

Carry on frying, stirring frequently until the pancetta is crispy with the fat full rendered and the mushrooms/leeks are cooked through and nicely browned.

Meanwhile, add your pasta to a large pot of salted water (season the water well) and cook until al dente. Just before draining, scoop a cup of the starchy pasta water.

Melt 2 tbsp butter into the pan and once melted, pour in 1/2cup/125ml of the starchy pasta water.

Quickly stir to emulsify the starchy water, pancetta fat and butter. Reduce it down for a few mins, stirring as you go, then pour in cream.

Give it a good stir then melt in the gorgonzola. Once fully melted, season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce for a few mins until it begins to thicken, then stir through the pasta.

If the sauce is still slightly thin then keep it on the heat and stir until the sauce thickens around the pasta. With the same token, if the sauce soaks up too quickly then thin it back out with some more starchy pasta water.


Pancetta Fat – I don’t use oil to start off frying this, it fries well in it’s own fat. Just keep heat on a medium. Also, I usually keep the fat in (if there’s not an extreme amount) for extra flavour and emulsify it with the pasta water, but you can drain away if you want to.

The pancetta adds rich flavor and renders its own fat when cooked. Retaining some of this fat enhances the dish’s flavor, but excess fat can be drained if preferred.

Leeks – ensure you trim off the dark green leaves (you can save these for stocks and soups, too tough to eat normally) and ensure you rinse the leek in cold water to remove any hidden dirt.

Trim off the tough dark green leaves of the leek before chopping. Rinse the leek thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt trapped between the layers.

Starchy Water – Important the pasta water is a) well seasoned (so it doesn’t dilute the flavour) and b) nice and starchy (so it helps create the creamy sauce). Make sure you don’t pour too much water in the pot to boil otherwise it won’t be starchy enough. Also, make sure you scoop the water out JUST before draining the pasta.

Reserve some of the pasta cooking water just before draining. This starchy water helps emulsify the sauce and adds body and creaminess to the dish.

Can I use other Blue Cheeses? – Gorgonzola works great for it’s smooth and creamy texture and it’s subtle flavour. You can use other blue cheeses but you may have to reduce the quantity or it’ll overpower the dish. Just work to preference.

Cooking Pasta: Cook the pasta in well-salted water until al dente. This ensures the pasta has flavor and doesn’t dilute the sauce. Avoid overcooking as the pasta will continue to cook in the sauce.

Emulsifying Sauce: Melt butter in the pan with the cooked pancetta, mushrooms, and leeks. Add starchy pasta water to emulsify with the fat, creating a creamy base for the sauce.

Adding Cream and Gorgonzola: Pour in heavy cream to enrich the sauce, followed by chunks of Gorgonzola cheese. The creamy Gorgonzola melts into the sauce, providing a smooth and tangy flavor.

Seasoning: Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasoning carefully as Gorgonzola is already salty.

Thickening the Sauce: Simmer the sauce until it begins to thicken around the pasta. If the sauce is too thin, continue simmering to reduce and thicken. If it becomes too thick, add more starchy pasta water to achieve the desired consistency.

Variations with Blue Cheese: While Gorgonzola is recommended for its creamy texture and mild flavor, you can substitute with other blue cheeses. Adjust the quantity based on the strength of the cheese to avoid overpowering the dish.

Final Touch: Stir the cooked pasta into the creamy sauce, ensuring each strand is coated. Serve immediately, garnished with additional black pepper if desired. Adjust the dish to your preference by experimenting with the balance of flavors and textures.

Nutrition Information:


Calories: 1850 kcal | Carbohydrates: 115 g | Protein: 63 g | Fat: 134 g | Fiber: 10 g

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Yes, feel free to use your favorite pasta shape instead of penne.

Rigatoni, fusilli, or farfalle would work well.

What can I substitute for double/heavy cream?

You can substitute with half-and-half for a lighter version, but the sauce will be less rich and creamy.

Can I substitute pancetta with bacon?

Yes, you can substitute pancetta with bacon for a similar flavor profile.

How can I adjust the mushroom type?

Chestnut mushrooms provide a great flavor, but you can use any variety you prefer, such as button mushrooms or cremini mushrooms.

Is it necessary to use leeks?

Leeks add a mild onion flavor.

If you don’t have leeks, you can substitute with finely chopped onion or omit it.

Why scoop starchy pasta water before draining?

The starchy pasta water helps to emulsify the sauce, making it creamy and cohesive.

It also helps to thicken the sauce without adding additional cream.

Can I use other types of blue cheese instead of Gorgonzola?

Yes, you can substitute with other blue cheeses like Roquefort or Danish blue.

Adjust the quantity based on the cheese’s intensity.

How do I prevent the sauce from becoming too thin or thick?

Adjust the sauce consistency by simmering it to thicken or adding more starchy pasta water if it becomes too thick.

Can I make this dish vegetarian?

Yes, you can omit the pancetta and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to make this dish vegetarian-friendly.

How do I store leftovers?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave, adding a splash of cream or pasta water to revive the sauce if needed.

Leave A Reply