Friday, April 8, 2011

Mushroom Gravy

We were looking for something hearty and wintery at the end of March because it was still raining and cold outside, and I also had a bunch of mushrooms that we needed to eat before leaving town, so I thought hey, mushroom gravy.

There's some contention in the household over whether or not mushroom gravy constitutes a center of the plate per se: the theory behind mushroom gravy is that the umami and deep flavors from caramelized mushrooms and onions will transform even the most pedestrian of starches and liquids into something magical.

I think of it as mushrooms in gravy, but I can understand how some would consider it merely a sauce.

To that extent we settled on some steamed broccoli florets and tofu cutlets. I made what I felt was a pretty convincing argument for mashed potatoes but I was persuaded to roast them instead.

I started sweating a medium yellow onion and about 12-17 criminis in olive oil. Properly done, this takes a while, so I scrubbed, wedged, oiled, and seasoned six russets and got them roasting.

Keeping an eye on the mushrooms, I got some water boiling for steaming, cut the florets from two heads of broccoli and sliced a block of tofu into eight slabs. These slabs got salt and pepper on both sides and went into shimmering margarine for eight-ish minutes a side, or until golden brown.

When the tofu is all cooked, and the oven fries are all roasted, and the broccoli is approaching crisp-tenderness, it is time to transform our mushrooms into mushroom gravy.

Since I didn't have any stock on hand, I whisked a pretty hefty tablespoon each of (organic white whole wheat etc) pastry flour and nutritional yeast into a quarter-cup of soy sauce and a half-cup of water. With this ready, I deglazed the pan with two ounces of dry vermouth. When all the sticky bits were moving again, in goes the flour-and-water mixture.

This gets brought to a boil and then down to a simmer. Maybe a taste. Does it maybe need a dash of Frank's Red Hot Sauce? Yes, yes it does.

Plate up two slices of tofu and a handful each of wedges and florets. Smother with delicious, delicious gravy.

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