Salsa Caruso is a classic pasta sauce from Uruguay influenced by Italian flavors. The milk and cream base has a generous amount of beef bouillon mixed right in to give the sauce an almost gravy-like quality. It also includes sliced mushrooms, ham, and Parmesan cheese. The sauce is generally paired with capellettis (cappelletti) and other stuffed pastas. I used tortellini, but it can be tossed with any shape that will hold up well such as shells.
I found conflicting reports on the sauce’s origin. It was either developed in 1915 as a way to impress the Italian opera singer, Enrico Caruso, while he was visiting Montevideo (the capital of Uruguay) or in 1950 by the Montevideo restaurant, Mario y Alberto, as a tribute to the late Neapolitan tenor. Either way, this sauce has left quite the impression and La Asociación Uruguaya de Gastronomía (Uruguayan Association of Gastronomy) declared the dish an Uruguayan cultural heritage.
Claire took one bite of the coated tortellini and immediately said “yum.” Now in the interest of full disclosure, she has also said yum to ice chips and hand sanitizer in the past week. We are still working on her critiquing skills. At least this time I definitely agree with her and there wasn’t a single piece leftover.
Some recipes also include walnuts, diced onions, or even red peppers. For extra richness, you can use 2 cups of cream instead of 1 cup milk/1 cup cream.
The Príncipe de Nápoles (Prince of Naples) version includes grated mozzarella or gruyere and is baked gratin-style.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup button mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon beef bouillon
3 1/2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup diced, smoked ham
Salt, black pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg to taste
1 pound pasta, cooked until al dente according to package directions
Freshly chopped parsley for garnish
In a wide pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and most of the water has evaporated.
Stir in the flour until incorporated and it begins to turn golden. Slowly whisk in the milk, then the cream and beef bouillon. Continue to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken.
Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and ham. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Serve immediately with cooked pasta and freshly chopped parsley for garnish.