How Would Julia Do Mushrooms?
While searching for a side dish that contains sautéed mushrooms, I decided the place to start was to see what Julia had to offer. Known and recognized everywhere, Julia Child was a culinary legend and a household name. Her persona was larger than life, and she had an infectious enthusiasm for both cooking and for having a good time. Few people have had as much influence in elevating fine dining in this country as she, and cooks worldwide owe Julia a large debt of gratitude for the work she had done.
Julia. A Culinary Icon.
If you’re serious at all about cooking, at some point you’ll own a copy of her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, so if you don’t already own it, you might as well go out and buy a copy right now. I recommend you read it like you would a novel, from start to finish. It will give you a larger scope and a sense of totality in the art of cooking and fine dining.
In 2012, to celebrate her 100th birthday, the Smithsonian put her Cambridge, Massachusetts, kitchen on display exactly as it was when used as the set for her television shows. My favorite photo of her is one taken in her kitchen during the filming of one of the episodes of The French Chef. It shows Julia in full profile, standing behind the counter in front of the camera with four people sitting on the floor hidden from view prompting her, handing her needed equipment, and disposing of anything she handed down to them. The picture gives a classic behind-the-scenes look at Julia being Julia.
Taking Julia’s Advice
I’ve taken her mushrooms in brown sauce recipe from her book and have altered it a bit. For the wine in the sauce I don’t use Madeira; instead, I use the varietal of wine I will be serving with the meal. Regarding broth, if I’m serving beef, I use beef broth. I also add a bit of beef demi-glace. For pork I use a 1:1 ratio of beef broth and chicken broth, and for fowl I use chicken broth, white wine, and a poultry demi-glace. I not only ladle it over the meat, I also use it as a gravy if I’m serving a potato side.
Be sure to make plenty of the mushrooms in brown sauce so there’s lots left over. Reheated the next day, it’s a great dip for French fries.
Mushrooms (Julia's 'Shrooms)
2 1/2 cupsBeef broth for beef dish or chicken broth for fowl
Note: for porkUse 1/2 chicken broth and 1/2 beef broth
1/2 cupWine red or white or combination
1 TbspDemi-glace (beef or poultry)
1/2 lb.Mushrooms (small baby 'bellas preferred)
1 TbspCanola oil
1 TbspShallots or green onions minced
To tasteSalt and pepper
2 TbspButter softened
4 dotsButter to enrich the dish
The afternoon of the day of the meal:
1. Wash the mushrooms in a strainer and pat dry. Slice each mushroom into thirds so the mushrooms stay “meaty”.
2. Add broth, wine, and demi-glace to the copper 1½ quart sauce pan and reduce to about half over med-high heat. Set reduction aside.
3. Incorporate the flour and butter together into a paste (beurre meunière pronounced burr man-yea). Set aside.
Enter Target Time _______________
Time: __________ (25 minutes prior to target time)
In a 10” skillet saute the mushrooms in butter and oil for 5 minutes over medium heat, adding minced shallots at the end. Add salt and pepper during process. Remove to a side dish.
Deglaze the mushroom skillet with butter, scraping up the good bits (fond).
“Layer” cognac on top of existing juices and ignite. If the cognac blends with the butter, put back on medium heat for a minute and then try to light it again.
Add the brown sauce to the skillet and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning.
Add beurre meunière to thicken. It will also thicken upon cooling (but only slightly).
Stir in the sauteed mushrooms and simmer a moment more to blend flavors. Reheat just before serving. Off heat, stir in dots of enrichment butter.
Serve mushrooms as a side and use the liquid to ladle over both the meat and potatoes.
And then, after the dishes are done and the kitchen is cleaned, for some belly laughs check out the Dan Akroyd parody of Julia on Saturday Night Live. You can find it on YouTube.
For some added entertainment, listed below are some of my favorite Julia quotes:
“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.”
“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”
“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”
“Everything in moderation… including moderation.”
“How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?”
“A party without cake is just a meeting.”
“Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun.”