I love my brother in law, G. He knows what he likes, and what he likes is beef. And so do I. So I served it to him every Passover, a big, honkin’ prime rib of it. A whole Kosher prime rib of beef. I called it The Beast, and it was on my yearly list along with wine, matzas, potatoes, and egg substitute that I used to cook stuff for my other brother in law, S, who swore off cholesterol in the 1990s.
We all loved The Beast, our own Passover sacrifice (Kosher prime rib is about $18/pound). I laced it with garlic just like Julia Child showed us to. I rubbed it with salt and spices. It was fragrant and fatty and beefy and crisp, just what our ancient hunter-gatherer metabolisms crave.
But ancient hunter-gatherers died young. And G. almost died young, except for the two angioplasties he had 6 months apart last year.
So The Beast got kicked off the Passover list, and I searched and searched for a good replacement. And I found a recipe in the New York Times from a New Orleans chef, and, since G loves mushrooms and wine, decided that those flavors would work just as well for Portobello mushrooms. And they did. The mushrooms go well with the potato kugel I make with the egg substitute.
Mushroom Ragout with wine, almonds and dried plums
- 10 extra large Portobello mushrooms, sliced diagonally into slices 1/2 inch thick
- Salt and black pepper
- Safflower oil and PAM, for frying.
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and smashed
- 1 cups Concord grape wine (like Manishewitz)
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 cups pitted prunes
- 1 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
- 4 ounces shiitake, crimini or other mushrooms, diced
- 1/2 cup (loosely packed) chopped parsley
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 clove
- 1 star anise
- Zest of 1 orange, in strips
- 1 can condensed chicken stock, and water to cover.
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Season portobello mushrooms with salt and pepper. Place a heavy wide pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmering. Add mushroom slices and brown well on both sides. Transfer to a plate.
2. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and ginger to the pan, and stir until the onions begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Add both wines, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
3. In a large Dutch oven or heavy braising pan, combine 1 cup of the prunes, 1/4 cup almonds, and the chopped mushrooms. In a piece of cheesecloth, tie up 1/4 cup of the parsley with the thyme, bay leaf, cinnamon, clove, star anise and orange zest, and add to the pot. Add the mushroom slices, the vegetable mixture in its reduces wine sauce, and the chicken soup. Add water to cover. Place over high heat to bring to a boil, then transfer to the oven.Cook, covered for another hour.
Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup parsley and 1/4 cup almonds.
Yield:10 to 14 servings.