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A few years ago, Le Cordon Bleu, the French culinary school, invited me to teach master classes on vegetarian cooking as a guest instructor at all of their U.S. campuses. It was a thrill to get the students interested in cooking things that they never had before. I developed plant-based versions of many classic dishes, among them vegan renditions of the five French mother sauces, including espagnole sauce and demi-glace. Try this bordelaise on grilled portobello mushrooms or mashed potatoes.
1 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, plus a splash if needed
3 shallots, coarsely chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter stick
1/2 pound fresh porcini mushrooms, wiped of grit and slice, or 1 ounce dried porcini reconstituted (see Note)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Demi-Glace (recipe follows) or store-bought demi, such as More Than Gourmet
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon unrefined cane sugar
Combine the wine, shallots, thyme, and bay leaf in a small saucepan
Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and gently simmer until the wine is reduced by half, to about ½ cup, 8 to 10 minutes.
Put a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the oil and butter substitute. When the butter substitute has melted, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the mushrooms lose their moisture, soften, and begin to brown, about 8 minutes.
Strain the wine mixture into a medium saucepan
Discard the solids. Put over low heat and stir in the demi-glace.
Fold the mushrooms, along with any liquid in the pan, into the sauce.
Stir in the parsley, rosemary, and sugar and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add a splash of red wine to brighten up the flavor of the sauce, if desired.
The sauce can be made up to 1 day in advance, covered, and refrigerated; reheat before serving.
Porcini mushrooms are a hallmark of Italian cuisine. With their meaty texture and earthy, somewhat nutty flavor, they are unequaled among mushrooms and lend themselves to countless dishes. If you can’t get your hands on fresh porcini (which are quite expensive), dried porcini are very good and will add a chestnut-like flavor to this sauce.
To reconstitute dried porcini mushrooms: Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour hot water over them to cover (here, about 2 cups). Soak for 30 minutes, or until the mushrooms soften. Carefully lift the mushrooms out of the soaking liquid with a fork, so as not to disturb the sediment settled at the bottom of the bowl. When reconstituted, 1 ounce dried porcini will equal about ½ cup.
Excerpted from Crossroads by Tal Ronnen with Scot Jones (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Lisa Romerein.