I only have a tolerable picture of these earthy, savory delights. I was so excited about the meal that I forgot to take a picture of the mushrooms before we ate. I haven’t been to Outback in a long time, but I have missed their optional mushroom side. There was just something about those mushrooms simmered in wine that made the steak’s flavor amazing. Actually, I learned that there is a word for that flavor combination, it’s called Umami a Japanese word for that neglected fifth flavor we all know but struggle to identify (the first four are salt, sweet, sour, and bitter). That tidbit came from this week’s giveaway Notes on Cooking.
This recipe is simple and only takes up one burner. As a side dish it handsomely accompanies and enriches any rich, savory meal. Think of autumn flavors: squashes, potatoes, meats prepared with heavier flavors. Stay away from light or citrusy tones. If you’re grilling steaks, start it before you head outside and it’ll be ready to go when the steaks are done resting. If you’re cooking for two, halve the recipe, unless you’re cooking for me.
- 1/2 onion, diced small
- 2 cups beef broth or stock (or bouillon in water)
- 1 lb button mushrooms
- 1/2 cup dry red wine (Burgundy, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon*, Zinfandel, or Pinot Noir) – you can increase this a little if you want a stronger wine flavor
In a 10″ skillet, bring the diced onions and beef broth to a gentle simmer. Let it hang out for 15 minutes at this stage. This step reduces some of the water content, concentrating the flavor and lets the onions get familiar with the broth. Do NOT boil the broth and complain to me that you ruined your favorite pan. A bubble here and there is good, roiling craziness is bad.
While the stock and onions are simmering: wash, pat dry, and quarter the mushrooms. Quartering is about as exciting as it sounds, just cut the mushroom in half, then half again.
After the 15 minutes have elapsed, add the mushrooms and wine to the skillet. You may need to increase the heat just a little to bring it to a simmer, but do NOT boil. Simmering will remove all but trace amounts of the alcohol, but will allow the wine to keep its flavor. Simmer the mushrooms for 15 minutes. This further concentrates the stock and lets the mushrooms both absorb and share their flavor.