If Julia Child were a vegetarian…

I have a confession to make on behalf of my husband. The Beard (as I affectionately refer to him) despises mushrooms. I mean, really, really despises them.  It’s unclear where this hatred comes from, perhaps he was attacked by some nefarious funghi as a child, or maybe one looked at him wrong in middle school; I do not really know.

I, on the other hand,  adore mushrooms. Tonight, thinking he would not be home for dinner, I attempted a recipe for mushroom bourguignon from my favorite blogger and cookbook author, Deb Perelman. Let me tell you two things. One,  if Juila Child had been a vegetarian,  she would have been all over this. Two, the Beard,  the self proclaimed hater of mushrooms, ate this dish for dinner voluntarily and described it as “rustic and full flavored”…That, my friends is what I consider a successful dish.

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MUSHROOM BOURGUIGNON
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds cremini or white button mushrooms, in medium sliced chunks
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups vegetable broth (it would also work with beef broth if you’re not concerned with keeping it vegetarian)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup frozen pearl onions (thawed)
Egg noodles, for serving

*Note: I doubled this recipe to make lunches for the week. It worked great, but I suggest you brown the mushrooms and pearl onions in batches to get the best flavor and avoid steaming them. I also went a little heavy handed with the tomato paste and garlic and regretted it, so I would advise measuring (duh) or going easy if you’re eyeballing it.
**Tip: When cooking mushrooms for any preparation, be it burger toppings or an omelet, make sure you avoid adding salt until after the mushrooms are browned and cooked as salt will cause the mushrooms to release their moisture too early and get soggy.

1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat in a large heavy bottomed dutch oven. Add mushrooms and saute for about 4 minutes, until they begin to brown but do not yet release any liquid. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Melt another tablespoon of butter and tablespoon olive oil and add pearl onions. Saute until they get a bit of color on them, moving the onions gently around in the pan to evenly brown without breaking their skins. This should take about 5-6 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of red wine and cover pot, simmering for about 10 minutes to absorb the flavor. Remove onions and reserve with mushrooms. (Note: I didn’t actually do this step, I just think it would sweeten up the onions a bit and improve their flavor. They were a bit too strong for my taste. Feel free to skip this step and add the onions with the mushrooms if you are short on time).

3. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and tablespoon olive oil to pot. Add carrots, diced onion, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Saute over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, until onion and carrot are nicely browned. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add remaining wine and turn up heat to high, scraping up any bits off the bottom. Boil until the wine has reduced by about half, about 5 minutes or less (keep an eye on it here as the vegetables tend to want to stick to the bottom and burn).

4. Add tomato paste and vegetable stock along with mushrooms, onions and any accumulated juices. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes until mushrooms and onions are tender.

5. Mix remaining butter and flour together to form a paste and stir in stew. Simmer for about 20 minutes on low until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can speed up the thickening process by boiling on high for a few minutes to reduce the sauce, but make sure you stir constantly and keep and eye on it or the bottom will be a blackened mess (not that this has ever happened to me…)

Serve over egg noodles or other short pasta and feel virtuous for eating sumptuously decadent vegetarian food AND getting your husband to like it.

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