February 1, 2011
This has not been my healthiest winter. I am one of those people who rarely get sick or hurt, but the past few month or so has taken away that bragging right. In the last thirty days, I managed to suffer from a bile attack, sinus infection, hacking cough, burnt eyeball, wisdom tooth extraction, and hacking cough #2 (not great to have with fresh stitches and a bout of canker sores along the gums). Add to this list of miseries that it is currently -26C with the wind chill (-14F). Not great stuff to be talking about on a food blog….but the reason why is that I think I may have found the meal that can at least pacify all these ills: rich, saucy mushroom bourguignon.
In the middle of winter, achy with coughs and a cold, mouth sore and tender, there’s nothing better than soft mushrooms that have simmered in a thick sauce of red wine, broth, fresh thyme, and onions. The mushrooms are tender, juicy and bursting with flavor. The sauce is decadent, and easily vegetarian if you use veggie, onion or mushroom broth (we have found the best organic bouillon cubes that come in every flavor you could want). The red wine really shines through, the chunks of carrot and pearl onions are sweet, and the thyme the idea herb. Serve atop a bed of egg noodles, settle in on the couch under a blanket; it suddenly doesn’t feel so cold out and everything starts hurting a little less.
Obviously, I’m in love with this dish – highly recommended! It’s also versatile, so add the mushrooms you like, throw in some potatoes, add a bay leaf or two. The only things I would suggest you ensure you do is use good enough red wine, as its taste does shine through (and really, you want to be able to tolerate drinking a few glasses of it yourself – you need something to keep the spirits up while putting this together), and to use fresh thyme. You would never miss the meat that’s not in here, and if you’re a vegetarian, you would relish in that that fact!
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 or 3 large Portobello mushrooms, cut in ¼ inch slices (don’t include the stems)
1 ½ pounds cremini or button mushrooms, cut into ¼ slices.
1 carrot, finely diced
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups beef or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch (you may not need all of this, or you may need a little more. Start slowly and stop when it’s thick enough!)
1 cup pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
Egg noodles, for serving
Sour cream and chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
1. Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. Remove them from pan.
2. Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and a several grinds of black pepper into the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
3. Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half.
4. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. Add the pearl onions and simmer for five minutes more.
5. Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes.
6. If the sauce is too thin, combine the cornstarch with a few tablespoons of hot water. Add the mixture in small increments to the pot, until it reaches the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles, dollop with sour cream (optional) and sprinkle with parsley.
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