Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Blanc Ragoût de Veau et Champignon

     A French White Stew of Veal and Mushrooms!  
     The savory flavor of wild mushrooms is a classic accompaniment for veal.  Common button mushrooms or cave mushrooms used to be the only choice at common grocery stores, but fortunately that has changed.  Now most grocery stores carry Shiitake, Oyster Mushrooms and Portobello.  Dried Ceps, Cow Ear Fungus, Porcini or Morels are available at some grocery stores too.  To find highly prized mushrooms, like Chanterelles, Lobster Mushrooms or Black Trumpets, shoppers have to go to a gourmet food market.   
     Each edible wild mushroom has its own unique flavor.  Some recipes are designed to highlight the flavor of specific mushrooms.  For example, a classic French Blanc Ragoût is commonly flavored with Cep Mushrooms or a combination of Ceps and other wild mushrooms.  Today's Blanc Ragoût recipe is flavored with Dried Porcini, Shîtake and Oyster Mushrooms.  
     Italian Porcini are a strain of Cep Mushroom that grow in a specific region of Italy.  Environmental conditions cause Porcini to have a unique flavor.  Regular Ceps (King Boletus) tend to have a little bit richer earthy flavor than Porcini.  
     Shiitake Mushrooms have a mild forest mushroom flavor and they have many health benefits.  Shiitake are known for having anti cancer and anti aging properties.  
     Oyster Mushrooms vary in color and shape.  Some are mild tasting and some are very rich.  Oyster Mushrooms are named for their shape, but they do have a rich mushroom flavor with a hint of roasted oyster flavor.  Caution must be taken when eating Oyster Mushrooms, because these mushrooms contain a chemical that will make a person sick if alcohol is consumed.  The active chemical is the same as what is in the alcoholism treatment drug called Antabuse.  If wine is served with the meal, it is best to skip adding Oyster Mushrooms to the white stew.    
     Blanc Ragoût de Veau et Champignon:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.  (About 2 1/4 cups)
     Step 1:  Soak 3 or 4 dried Porcini Mushroom slices in 1 cup of water overnight in a refrigerator.
     Cut the Porcini into bite size pieces.
     Save the soaking water.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Sauté till the shallots turn clear in color.
     Step 3:  Add 7 ounces of veal stewing meat that is cut into bite size pieces.
     Sauté till the a few light golden highlights appear.  (Do not excessively brown the veal for a white stew!)
     Step 4:  Add just enough flour to soak up the excess butter in the pan while constantly stirring.  (About 1 1/2 teaspoons.)
     Stir till the roux combines and it is still a pale color.
     Step 5:  Add 3 ounces of dry white wine.
     Add 1 cup of pale veal stock or light chicken broth.
     Stir occasionally as the sauce comes to a gentle boil.
     Step 6:  Add 1 medium size peeled parsnip that is cut into large pieces.
     Add 4 or 5 peeled pearl onions.
     Add 5 large bite size pieces of peeled turnip.
     Step 7:  Add the prepared Porcini mushrooms and the reserved soaking liquid.
     Add 1/4 cup of thick sliced Shiitake Mushrooms.  (Cut any large slices in half.)
     Add 1/4 cup of Oyster Mushrooms that are cut in half.
     Return the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 8:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 3/4 cup of cream.
     Add 1 small bay leaf.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Return the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 9:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Stir occasionally as the stew simmers.
     Gently simmer till the veal is tender and the sauce reduces to a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  (About 30 minutes.  Add a splash of light veal stock or milk if the stew becomes too thick.)
     Keep the white stew warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     This recipe describes 1 entrée presentation.
     Step 1:  Stir the white stew one last time.
     Remove the bay leaf.
     Step 2:  Ladle the white stew into a shallow single portion casserole dish.
     Set the casserole dish on a doily lined serving platter.
     Step 3:  Garnish the platter with curly leaf parsley sprigs.
     Serve with toasted sliced French bread on the side.
     This is an elegant Blanc Ragoût that is appealing on a chilly day!

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