Mrs. Grigson confides in The Mushroom Feast (New York 1975), that this recipe was given to her by the best cook she ever met; a lucky acquaintance indeed. The sauce is nearly as simple as it is possible to get. It is good with beef, grilled chicken, ham, kidneys….
-3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-4 oz coarsely chopped mushrooms
-2½ Tablespoons of flour
-a chopped small onion
-1¼ cups boiling water
-2/3 cup Sercial or Verdelho Madeira (Rainwater in a pinch)
-salt and pepper
-about ½ Tablespoon more unsalted butter
- Melt the butter over medium low heat and cook the mushrooms and onion in it until they soften.
- Stir the flour into the vegetables, increase the heat and stir until the flour takes on the color of peanut butter.
- Stir the water into the mixture until it marries with the vegetables in a uniform consistency.
- Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes.
- Add the Madeira to the sauce and continue simmering it for another 10 minutes or so.
- Season the sauce with salt and pepper, turn off the heat and stir the remaining butter into the sauce to give it a silken sheen.
- You will want to get the color of the roux just right, second nature to cooks in Louisiana but sometimes a bit of a challenge for the rest of us. If it gets too dark, the flour loses its ability to thicken the sauce; molecular issues are in play. You do, however, want it to take on some color to impart the distinctly nutty flavor of cooked roux to the sauce.
- If you find black flecks in the roux it has burnt and tastes acrid: You will need to throw away your sauce, so be vigilant.
- Do not be tempted by embellishment, not even stock: You want the earth of mushroom and tang of Madeira to blow you away.
- Sheepish disclosure: This sauce apparently originated in France.