Sunday, November 21, 2010

Slow-Cooked Mushroom Gravy; A Gift From Friends

Welcome to Day 21 of my "Month of Vegan Gravies" project!

The gravy recipe in today's post is special to me because it comes from my friends, Danica and Heather (the incredibly talented duo behind the "Soundly Vegan" blog).
When we met for the first time, they actually brought me a take-out container of homemade vegan "comfort food": Their awesome homemade tofu, AND a pint of this fabulous gravy! I was in awe. I still am. You have no idea what a treasure the gift of homemade food is to someone who often feels like a worn-out meal-cooking-machine for an always-hungry family!
I've had the privileged of sharing their table numerous times since, and let me just say, their meals are even more amazing than their blog's award-winning photography conveys, if that's possible. Yes, that good.

The original recipe, along with instructions for their home-made tofu and Tofu-Chicken-Fried-Steak, are posted here at their blog. You need to go check it out. EVERY single thing Danica and Heather create is going to start you drooling like Pavlov's dogs, I promise.

And if you don't manage to make anything else on the blog (you ought to) at least make this gravy, it is one of the richest tasting, most decadent gravies I have run across. We lovingly call it "Mushroom-Crack-Gravy" because it's that addicting.

I didn't make a single change (which is unusual for me) except to provide you with a recipe for the mushroom broth that is a component of the recipe. The comments in [brackets] are theirs.

Slow-Cooked Mushroom Gravy
Posted with permission from the creative minds at Soundly Vegan

1 onion, diced
8 oz fresh mushrooms, diced [Use whichever mushroom blows your hair back.]
6 cloves garlic, minced
fresh thyme [I tied 6 sprigs together with kitchen twine to make a bundle.]
5 cups mushroom broth, divided {*see recipe below or use store bought, your choice}
sea salt
freshly-cracked black pepper
½ cup white wine [I used a sauvignon blanc that I had on hand.]
olive oil
¼ tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
all-purpose flour
¼ cup non-dairy creamer, optional [I used So Delicious original coconut creamer.]

Sauté the onion in a drizzle of olive oil on medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, mushrooms and thyme and sauté until the mushrooms have given off their liquid and are starting to dry. This should take 30 minutes or so.

Add the wine and turn up the heat to simmer off the alcohol.

Add 4 cups of mushroom stock and reduce heat back to low. Simmer at lowest temp possible, until reduced in volume by half. This takes about an hour.
Transfer half of the gravy to a blender and pulse until pureed. Return it to the pan. Add nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.

In a separate pan whisk together the flour and 2 T olive oil, cooking for a few minutes until the flour has a nutty scent. Add one cup warmed mushroom stock, whisking as it’s added. Add the roux to the gravy and bring to a low boil until thickened then reduce heat. You can add in the non-dairy creamer at this point if you wish a more creamy, Southern-style gravy.

*Mushroom Broth

This broth recipe is not from the fine ladies above, so if it doesn't turn out, blame me, not them. (No worries, it's also a great recipe.)
You'll need part of this recipe for the gravy above, but the leftovers will come in handy!! Mushroom broth can be used in place of any broth, but it is especially good at replacing beef broth because many mushrooms have a beefy flavor. This isn't an overly strong broth, let it simmer to reduce longer if you want a more concentrated taste.
4 ounces of dried wild porcini, crimini, oyster or morel mushrooms (whatever combo you like, or can find.)
3 cups chopped, fresh mushrooms of your choice
2 Tb. olive oil
8 cups water
Sea salt
Black Pepper

Place dried mushrooms in a medium sized stock pot (or crock-pot if you have a smaller one) and add water. Add a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper.
If cooking on the stove:
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer.
While dried mushrooms are simmering, saute fresh mushrooms in oil in a medium skillet, keeping pan covered. When releasing their juices and cooked through, add to pot with dried mushrooms.
Continue to simmer on medium-low, covered, for 45 min. Check that water level doesn't get too low, it should cover mushrooms at all times. After 45 min, turn off heat and let set for another hour.
If using a crock pot: put dried mushrooms and water in crock-pot. Turn to high.
Saute fresh mushrooms in oil in a medium skillet, keeping pan covered. When releasing their juices and cooked through, add to crockpot with dried mushrooms. When liquid starts to bubble, (about 1/2 hour) turn crock-pot to low and cook three hours.

When mushrooms have cooked in broth, add two more cups of water, stir and allow to cool for an hour, then strain (I prefer to use a cheesecloth-lined strainer, to get all the bits) pressing the mushrooms to get all the liquid. (I actually squeeze them with my hands).

This broth keeps in the fridge for several weeks and also freezes well.
Enjoy!! And as the crazy-busy Holiday season rolls around, remember what a precious gift a home-cooked meal can be; Never hesitate to share from your kitchen, it can be a LIFE-SAVER, even for someone who cooks all the time!!