Mushrooms Bourgignon (It’s complicated. But very yummy.)
This is one of those touchie-feelie things: I never learned much in the way of amounts, because that just isn’t how it works.) (Aller avec le courant!)
Minimum 1 lb crimini mushrooms (but more – lots more – is better, and if you can find field mushrooms or even dried varieties of wild mushrooms, add those, too, because even criminis are kind of bland, as mushrooms go)
At least one medium onion, in eighths OR a bunch of raw pearl onions if available
1-3 or more cloves of garlic, minced
Butter, olive oil (yeah, both)
Red wine (probably about a cup or so)
Approximately 1 oz brandy or dry sherry
Tarragon (dried or fresh), salt, pepper
Good, dark miso stock (non-veggies can use beef stock) at least one cup
A splash of coffee (optional, but coffee really rounds out the flavour of dark sauces and gravies…)
OPTIONAL BUT INCREDIBLY USEFUL: Cream (or milk, or even unflavoured yogurt, in a pinch)
MAYBE: Sugar (only if necessary, see below)
Melt the butter with a little olive oil (it stops the butter from burning at too low a temperature) in a heavy frying pan, one with high sides, cast iron if available.
Add the onions and sauté until beginning to brown. Add mushrooms and continue sautéing over medium high heat until the shrooms are beginning to get browned and crispy (you’ll know what I mean when you see it. The important thing is they should not be soggy, they should suck up all the butter/oil, then release it back out and then most of the liquid should reduce to nothing again). Remove the onion-mushroom mix with a slotted spoon, leaving as much of the liquids/butter behind as you can. Add more butter and/or oil if you need to (you will need to).
Add the garlic, the tarragon, salt and pepper, swish around in the juices and then
Add the brandy or sherry to (quickly) deglaze, then ignite it (very exciting/do be careful/it’s not that bad) and let the alcohol burn completely off.
At this point, you need to reduce the heat to very low and add more butter. When that has melted, add some flour (the ratio is basically 1-2 tblsp for every 2 cups of liquid you will be adding – depending, because it does vary. In high elevations and very dry climates, you may need more or less than standard.) Make sure the flour has completely absorbed the butter but is not “mealy” or grainy. Kind of like a swimmy glue, really.
Add the wine. It’s best to do this a bit at a time, making sure it is completely incorporated into the butter-flour mix before adding more. You just keep doing this till the sauce is the consistency of pudding.
Do the same with the miso or beef stock, the splash of Worcester sauce and the coffee, if you are adding that. The sauce should be a looser kind of pudding now, but not too thin.
Leave on a very low heat and allow the sauce to reduce to whatever consistency you think you will prefer (but not too thick!) and return the onions and mushrooms to the pan. Heat them through.
Add a splash of cream or milk, this will “smooth out” the sauce.
Notes: if the sauce seems too thin, and reducing it isn’t helping enough, you can add a mixture of flour and cold water. Not too much water, and put the flour into the water and not the other way around, making sure the result is completely mixed with no lumps or pockets of undissolved flour.
If you find the sauce is too tart or sharp, you can also add a little sugar to balance the wine. Be careful: a little goes a long way.
Serve over brown rice, with a fresh green salad (traditionally, with alfalfa sprouts on top), and warm French bread. And more wine.