I recently downloaded Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child for my iPad. Now, like all good foodies, I love, and have watched many times, Julie and Julia, the film based on the book by Julie Powell. Based on a true story, the titular character takes a year to cook her way through every single recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and blog about it. There’s a big scene around beef bourguignon, which is beef stewed in wine for a very, very long time.
This recipe has two advantages: first off, it’s vegetarian, could be even vegan if you omit the butter and sour cream. Second, you can make it, start to finish, in about an hour.
Oh, and it’s delicious. I made it recently for my girlfriends. There are no good photos of this recipe. I normally take some really carefully posed photos of the food I post here with my DSLR camera, but we were having way too much fun to do that. So, iPhone photos it is.
I used a combination of portobello, oyster, crimini and white button mushrooms for this. Shitake would also be good. The mushrooms are the star of this dish, and give it such a beautiful meatiness and earthiness. This is vegetarian comfort food at its best.
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 pounds mushrooms–I found a package of “mixed exotic mushrooms” at Superstore
- 1/2 carrot, finely diced
- 1/2 purple onion, finely diced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 leek, cut lengthwise, washed thoroughly and finely chopped, or 1 rib of celery, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup full-bodied red wine
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Egg noodles or any robust pasta for serving
- Sour cream and chopped chives or parsley, for garnish
- Start by washing the mushrooms and chopping them up into smallish pieces. I cut each mushroom in half, then made 3-4 cuts the other way.
- Heat your butter and olive oil in a large pan over medium heat (the butter adds richness, and the olive oil keeps the butter from burning), and then add in your mushrooms. Season with salt. Allow them to go for about 10 minutes or so, until they are all sweated out, and releasing lots of moisture and smelling up your kitchen with their mushroomy goodness. Remove from the pot to a bowl.
- Next, cook up your aromatics: add additional olive oil if you need to, then start with the onions and shallot. Next, add in the carrots and leek/celery. Season with salt. Allow this to go for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the vegetables are soft, add the garlic last. Stir until the garlic becomes fragrant, then add the mushrooms back in.
- Next up, add in the wine. Give it a couple of minutes to allow the alcohol to burn off, and then add in some of the vegetable stock, about half to begin with. Once it starts to boil, turn it down to a simmer and let it go for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding more stock if it gets too dry.
- The sauce will be done when it’s starting to look brow and rich, and like it’s coming together. The vegetables will be nice and soft. At this point, add in the tomato sauce. Melt a 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a cup in the microwave, and add an equal amount of flour or cornstarch and mix until its all incorporated. Add this, a little at a time, into the stew, until you get it to your desired consistency. Test for seasoning, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve a large ladle full over top of hot pasta, and garnish with a dollop of sour cream.