Monday, September 12, 2011

Meatless Monday Tackles Comfort Food

As I have mentioned several times before I love mushrooms, I love their earthiness and meatiness, and I love how you can use them to replace beef and make a recipe vegetarian.  My fiancee hates mushrooms, which I just don't understand, but I am cooking as much as I can with mushrooms up until the wedding, when I won't be able to use them as much as always.

The fall has always been my favorite season, its a season to get out the cardigan sweaters, and start making the "Snugly Recipes" as I call them.  Comfort food for so many seem to be something horribly fattening and bad for you.  For me comfort food has always been about the whole experience of food.  I love the all of the 5 senses having an involvement with food, cooking really should be more than just the sense of taste.  This is one of my favorite recipes to cook, just because I love the smell as it cooks and wafts through the air, and I love the different textures of the mushrooms.  Its such an enjoyable experience to see, taste, smell, touch and hear as you cook.  This particular ragout can stand on its own over pasta or polenta or you can also serve it over a nice steak as well.   Cook this dish and your home will smell amazing!

Mushroom Ragout


1/2 ounce dried porcini or morel mushrooms
2 cups hot water
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups finely chopped sweet yellow onions
8 ounces fresh portabello mushrooms, chopped
6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped
3 tablespoons all flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup freshly grated Asagio or Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chives
12 ounces penne pasta


Place porcini/morels in small bowl. Add 2 cups hot water and let soften 20-30 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove porcini/morels. Reserve liquid. Coarsely chop porcini/morels.  Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add portabellos and shiitake mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes. Mix in porcini/morels and reserved soaking liquid, simmer over medium-high heat 10 minutes.           

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir constantly until golden, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Stir until sauce thickens and boils, about 3 minutes. Stir into mushroom mixture. Simmer 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup Asagio cheese and chives. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Ragout can be served over pasta or polenta as desired.

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