It's winter, and it feels like I haven't seen the sun for weeks. It's time for rich, hearty stews. Before I get to Beef Burgundy, I have to show you this recipe for sauteed Pearl Onions and Mushrooms.
Julia Child's classic "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" convinced me that pearl onions and mushrooms shouldn't be cooked as part of the stew. She makes the onions and mushrooms separately from her beef burgundy, and adds them in at the very end of cooking. As a result, the onions and mushrooms have their own distinctive tastes to add to the stew, adding another layer of complexity on top of the beef an the wine sauce. If you add them at the beginning, they give their flavors up to the sauce, and you lose the complexity that elevates beef burgundy above an average stew.
*I like a lot of onions in my beef burgundy, probably more than most people would eat. I serve them separately so I can load myself up, while still making a beef burgundy that everyone else can eat.
I don't consider this recipe to just be a part of beef burgundy. Pearl onions and mushrooms make an excellent side dish for stews and braises of all kinds. The sweet, caramelized onion and mushroom flavor also matches well with roasted and grilled meat. I have to admit that I cheat a little and use pre-peeled frozen onions, as suggested by Cooks Illustrated. The end result is a recipe for pearl onions and mushrooms that is quick enough to be a weeknight side dish.
Recipe: Steam Sauteed Pearl Onions and Mushrooms
- 12 inch fry pan with a lid.
- 1 pound bag frozen pearl onions
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¼ teaspoon + ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces white mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half
- 2 tablespoon brandy (optional)
1. Steam the pearl onions: Put the frozen pearl onions, water and butter in a 12 inch fry pan. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt, then turn the heat to medium-high and cover. Once the water comes to a boil (you'll see the steam escaping around the lid), cook for five minutes, covered.
|Ready for steaming|
2. Saute the onions and mushrooms: Remove the lid from the fry pan and add the mushrooms. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Saute the onions and mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms lose their liquid. Continue to saute until both the mushrooms and onions are browned in spots. In total this should take about 5 to 10 more minutes.
3. Flambe the onions (optional): Remove the fry pan from the heat, and add the brandy. Put the pan back over the heat, and ignite the brandy. (I use a click lighter for this; or, if I'm feeling adventurous, I gently turn the pan until the fumes from the brandy catch in the flames of my gas burner.) Shake the pan until the flames extinguish themselves, then scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan into the liquid.
*Make sure you keep the lid nearby; if you are in danger of burning anything, put the lid on the pan to smother the flames.
4. Serve the onions and mushrooms: Serve.
*Don't want the excitement of flaming brandy in your kitchen? Use a quarter cup of water to soften the browned fond in the bottom of the pan and incorporate it into the onions and mushrooms.
*If you want to serve the onions and mushrooms as part of a stew, instead of as a side dish, do the following. While you are simmering the stew, make the mushrooms and onions. Stir the mushrooms and onions into the stew when it has about 15 minutes of simmering time left to go, and let them reheat in the stew.
*I know, I'm cheating with the frozen onions. The results are good, and I just don't have the patience to par-boil and peel a pound of pearl onions. I made it Julia's way a couple of times…this is so much easier that I can't go back, even though Julia's way is perfection.
*I'm so ashamed…shame…shame…OK, I'm over it. When's the stew going to be ready?
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Steam Sauteed Green Beans
Barbecued Frozen Corn
Cook's Illustrated: Beef Burgundy, The New Best Recipe
Julia Child: Mastering the Art of French Cooking
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A Year on the Grill says
I think I'll be using the pre-pealed onions next time... you are right, what a pain in the arse.
But that rich gravy from the Boef B was worth ALL the effort