A quick-to-make sautéed mushroom and onion sauce, tossed into some buttered egg noodles was a childhood favorite of mine. Oddly, I was a child who liked mushrooms -- a lot. "Noodles & 'shrooms", that's what we called it. If there's an official name for it, I don't know it. Sometimes it showed up on our dinner table tossed together in a bowl, as a simple side-dish to a roasted chicken. Other times it was layered on a platter, as an elegant bed for "skinny" pan-fried pork chops. Sometimes my mom sautéed the sauce in bacon fat, other times she used butter -- which I liked better. That said, as a lover of the earthy flavor of sautéed mushrooms, I'm happy to eat this as a meatless meal with a crisp salad, a slice of crusty bread and a glass of wine anytime.
When "nothing fancy" turns out to be heaven on a plate --
For the most part, sautéing is the best way to cook any type of mushrooms. It enhances their flavor tremendously, it's easy, and, it's relatively quick too, but, rushing the process is something I don't recommend. Mushrooms are done, when they're done. Sautéing mushrooms with sweet onions, which get sweeter and sweeter as they cook, is an added treat. These are two vegetables that play in perfect harmony together. Add a splash of beef, chicken, vegetable stock or white wine, a bit of subtle spice and a fresh or dried herb -- they're simply irresistible.
While this humble and rustic Eastern European peasant dish has a creamy, luxurious mouthfeel, it contains no cream or sour cream, so, don't confuse it with Germanic stroganoff-type preparations. It contains no tomato products or grated cheeses either, so, don't confuse it with Italian mushroom-laced pasta sauces. Traditionally, this sauce gets served with, tossed into, or, ladled atop homemade egg noodles, but, in a pinch, high-quality, store-bought egg noodles or egg-based pasta work fine -- the mushroom and onion sauce is the star of this show anyway.
2 pounds baby/petite button mushroom caps, cleaned*, stems cut off at the base of the cap (stems can be reserved for use in vegetable stock), caps cut into 1/4"-thick slices (Note: Purchase 2 1/2 pounds mushrooms in order to yield 2 pounds of caps.)
1 1/2 pounds 1/4"-sliced sweet onion, slices cut in half to form half-moon-shaped pieces
8 ounces salted butter (2 sticks)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt, more or less, to taste
1/2-3/4 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup white wine, your favorite, the choice is yours
fresh parsley, for garnish
*Note: Never rinse or soak any type of mushrooms in water to clean them because: they will absorb moisture like a sponge, rendering them mushy when cooked. If they are dirty, simply brush them (using a soft brush designed specifically for cleaning mushrooms), or, wipe them with a dampened towel or paper towel. In the case of these baby/petite button mushrooms, they required almost no cleaning.
~Step 1. Slice mushrooms and onions as directed. Separately, set both aside. In 12" skillet, melt butter over low heat. Stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper, to evenly season butter. Add the onions. Adjust heat to medium- medium-high and sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and translucent and beginning to show signs of caramelization, 12-15 minutes. Add mushrooms to skillet and continue to sauté, stirring frequently, until mushrooms have lost most of their moisture, about half of their volume, almost no liquid remains in pan, and, some of the mushrooms are turning a light golden brown, 35-40 minutes.
Note: It is not about how much time this process takes. It is about what this mixture looks like.
~ Step 2. Add the wine. Adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until a smooth, slightly-thickened white wine sauce has formed evenly on the bottom of the pan, 15-20 minutes. Remove sauce from heat, cover the skillet, and, set aside to steep, about 15-30 minutes.
~Step 3. The timing for cooking egg noodles is dependent upon whether you make them from scratch or purchase them. Here are my guidelines for some high-quality store-bought ones: In a 4-6-quart stockpot, cook 12-16-ounces store-bought egg noodles in 3-4 quarts boiling water that's been seasoned with 1-1/2 - 2 teaspoons sea salt, according to package directions. Drain noodles into a colander and immediately return to the hot stockpot and return pot to the still warm stovetop. Toss with 4-6 tablespoons salted butter and 3/4-1 teaspoon sea salt. Toss 2 cups mushroom and onion sauce into 12-16 ounces cooked noodles. Serve immediately.
When Eastern European 'shrooms & noodles were served:
Egg Noodles w/Sautéed Mushroom & Onion Sauce: Recipe yields 1 quart/4 cups mushroom and onion sauce, which is enough to sauce 2, 12-16 ounce bags of store-bought egg noodles. Each 2 cups of sauce tossed with 1 bag cooked noodles batch will yield 4-6 meatless main-dish servings, or, 12-16 side-dish servings.
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 12" skillet w/lid; large spoon; 4-6-quart stockpot; colander
Cook's Note: Next to sautéed mushrooms, which I use in all sorts of dishes from all over the world, mushroom caps that are stuffed with all sorts of savory concoctions and baked in the oven are one of my favorite hors d'oeuvres to serve (especially around the holidays). My recipe for ~ Mushrooms Stuffed w/Garlic & Fine Herbs Boursin ~, which is one of many stuffed mushroom recipes in my repertoire, is one that I've shared often over the the years. Mushroom love.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)