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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Recipe 1.08 - Mushroom Bourguignon

I am the Worst. Vegetarian. Ever.

A year and a half ago, my roommate dared me to give up meat. Me, being the silly person I am, agreed and haven't eaten meat since. Surprisingly, giving up meat wasn't all that difficult. However, I have yet to give up things like chicken and beef broth.

I guess one of the reasons I never felt the need to give up meat-flavored broths was that the initial dare was sort of a test of will, and not an actual stance against animal consumption. But now that I've gone this long without meat, I've been contemplating making vegetarianism a lifestyle choice, which means I need to figure out what I believe it is to be a vegetarian. Do I still eat fish? Should I try going vegan? And is it ok for me to make soups with chicken and beef broth? I can't even pretend vegetable broth is as good as chicken and beef broth. I would be very sad if I couldn't use them anymore, but I wouldn't feel like a real vegetarian if I just made up arbitrary rules about certain ingredients.

That's still an issue I'm working out as I become more and more set on making vegetarianism a permanent part of my life. Like I mentioned earlier, I first gave up meat basically to see if I could, and I have definitely noticed a lot of the benefits of a vegetarian diet. I feel better, have way more energy, and am extremely conscientious about the food choices that I make, since I have to figure out alternative ways to get the nutrients that I miss out on. It's also fun to try to adapt recipes that are meant to be made with meat and discover that the recipe is just as great without meat.

Unfortunately, this recipe wasn't one of them. I was inspired to cook this after watching Julie and Julia with my mom over winter break (man, it has been a long time since I've updated this thing) and while it was perfectly fine, I didn't think it was anything special. I think it might have benefited with meat, but this was also one of those recipes where my stupid list got in the way. See, the recipes calls for such luxuries as carrots, celery, thyme, and flour, which I neither can use nor have in my kitchen. So I probably missed out on a lot of the flavor because of that, and I'm not a cool enough cook to know how to improvise and add some other stuff from my list to compensate. Maybe next time. :(

Mushroom Bourguignon
Adapted from, you guessed it, Smitten Kitchen. If you want to indulge yourself and buy the ingredients that I can't, I suggest you follow her recipe. She probably made it about 1,000x better than I did.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 carrot, diced
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced (I would add more if I made this again)
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef or, if you are an actual vegetarian and not a fake one like me, vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup pearl onions, peeled
Egg noodles
Sour cream and chopped chives or parsley, to garnish

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and one of olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add mushrooms, and cook for a couple of minutes, until they get some color but have not released juices, about 3-4 minutes.

2. Place mushrooms aside, and heat rest of the olive oil. Cook onion and salt over medium heat until onions are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for a minute more.

3. Add red wine, and turn the heat up to high. Reduce the wine to half of what you added. Stir in tomato paste, broth, and mushrooms. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender. Add in pearl onions, and cook for 5 minutes more. Add remaining butter, and cook for 10 minutes more or until you get your desired consistency.

4. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve over cooked egg noodles. Top it off with a dash of nothing and a pinch of I can't afford luxury foods! And lots of parsley.


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