That title is rife with words I can't pronounce.
Whenever I referenced the meal I was going to make, I said something like "That Mushroom Bore-gwee-gog-ig-non-ish-ness Thing." Over the week, it was shortened to "Mushroom Thing," and then to "You know." Creme Fraiche--is it fray-shh? Fresh? No clue. I am not a linguist.
What I DO know is that both things are delicious and worth your time.
Boeuf Bourgignon, if you're unfamiliar, is traditionally made with braised beef and consumes many hours. This is the dish so popularized by Julia Child and then Julie & Julia. I'm sure Julia Child is turning over in her grave at the mention of mushrooms instead of beef. And, as I recently read "My Life in France," I can tell you with 100% certainty that her co-author, Simone Beck, a stickler for what constitutes traditional French cuisine, is not only rolling over, but screaming obscenities.
Tune her out and embrace the portbellos.
Mushroom Bourguignon (from the Smitten Kitchen)
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-2 tablespoons butter, softened
-2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices (save the stems for another use) (you can use cremini instead, as well)
-1/2 carrot, finely diced (**I didn't bother to buy a whole bag of carrots for 1/2 of a carrot. Omit if you want.**)
-1 small yellow onion, finely diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 cup full-bodied red wine
-2 cups beef or vegetable broth (beef broth is traditional but vegetable to make it vegetarian; it works with either)
-2 tablespoons tomato paste
-1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
-1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1 cup pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
-Egg noodles, for serving
-Creme Fraiche (or sour cream) and chopped chives or parsley, for garnish (optional)
1. Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. Remove them from pan.
2. Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and a several grinds of black pepper into the pan and cook for 10, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.
3. Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. Add the pearl onions and simmer for five minutes more.
4. Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste.
5. To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles, dollop with creme fraiche (optional) and sprinkle with chives or parsley.
Now. I know you've been hyperventilating at the idea of making Creme Fraiche. But let me ask you a few questions:
1. Do you feel good about spending $8.00 on a tub of Creme Fraiche? No, I didn't think so.
2. Do you have a container with a lid?
3. Do you have a mixing apparatus, such as a spoon?
4. Do you have a plastic bag and twist tie?
5. Got 24 hours to let something sit on the counter while you do absolutely nothing?
If you answered yes to questions 2-5, then I am confident that you can make Creme Fraiche. It is stupidly easy. If you have the ability to mix two things together, there is no reason why you should ever buy Creme Fraiche--or sour cream, for that matter.
Creme Fraiche (from Serious Eats, with a little method change)
-2 cups heavy cream (preferably pasteurized and not ultra-pasteurized)
-2 tablespoons buttermilk or plain yogurt
*Note: People say to not use ultra-pasteurized, because it won't work. All I had to experiment with was the ultra-pasteurized variety of both cream and buttermilk. Also, my house is both cold and drafty. All odds were against me, according to traditional wisdom. It still turned out. So...nuts to traditional wisdom.
1. In a plastic container large enough to hold the liquid, mix both ingredients together.
2. Put a lid half-on the container (or leave it off if you prefer).
3. Using a food-grade plastic bag, place the container inside the bag. Gather up the ends of the bag, making a small opening. Take a deep breath and blow all your hot air in there, inflating the bag. Close it up, trapping the air, and twist-tie it shut. This will give an initial kick of warmth and will keep it free from drafts. If you have tuberculosis, a cold, or any other air-borne disease, please skip this step for the safety of all involved.
4. Let it sit out on the counter for 24 hours. Halfway through-ish, stir it and give it another kick of hot air.
5. Your creme fraiche is ready when it's thick like sour cream. It may take longer than 24 hours (some say 36), but mine was ready in 20 hours. Take it out of the bag, put the lid on entirely and store in the fridge, where it will continue to mature. It should keep for 7-10 days (though, honestly, I think my creme fraiche was good for at least 2-2.5 weeks...we play fast and loose with the laws of microbiology in my house).
-Makes 2 cups. That is a LOT of creme fraiche for very little money, because don't forget--you can make buttermilk by combining milk and vinegar or lemon juice and letting it sit for a few minutes. You and I both know you have those things in your house. Don't buy buttermilk for this purpose--only use up leftover buttermilk you bought for another reason.