Very often, when I work from a recipe that I have found in a book, a magazine or online, I make it by following the recipe exactly, then I try to figure out how to improve it, and to learn from any mistakes that I have made. This means that, normally, I will have cooked a dish several times to iron out the wrinkles and make it as good as I possibly can before I will blog about it.
Not this one, I cooked it for the first time last night and it was such a delight that I don’t think it can be improved upon. It is a Nigel Slater recipe, and I strongly suspect that he has worked on it and perfected it before publishing it. Whatever process he went through, he has absolutely nailed this one, and it is such a straightforward recipe that you can’t help but nail it as well.
This dish requires a whole bottle of red wine; you will never have sacrificed a bottle in a greater cause! There is one golden rule about cooking with wine: if you wouldn’t drink it then you shouldn’t cook with it. It is a crucial ingredient, and all dishes live and die by the quality of the ingredients.
This is an unintentional vegetarian dish, and can be made suitable for vegans by using olive oil rather than butter for the butternut mash and paying close attention to the type of wine, tomato puree and vegetable stock that you are using.
RECIPE – feeds 4
For the marinade:
750g mixed mushrooms (brown chestnut, oysters, button etc)
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
500ml good red wine
For the bourguignon:
2 medium onions
3 garlic cloves
2 small carrots
8 small shallots
2 tsp tomato purée
2 tbsp plain flour
250ml good red wine
250ml vegetable stock
a pinch of caster sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
For the mash:
2 butternut squash
Slice any large, thick-stemmed mushrooms into pieces the thickness of a pound coin, quarter any chestnut mushrooms and add them with whole button mushrooms into a large mixing bowl.
Crack the coriander seeds and peppercorns using a pestle and mortar, or grind them coarsely in a spice grinder. Tuck the bay leaves, thyme sprigs and rosemary among and under the mushrooms and add the ground coriander and pepper seeds. Pour the red wine over the mushrooms, cover with a lid or clingfilm, then leave for an hour to marinate.
Peel the onions, cut them in half, then slice each half into six segments. Put a couple of tablespoons of the olive oil into a deep, heavy-based casserole then add the onions and let them cook over a moderate heat, covered and stirring from time to time, until they are soft and golden. Allow 20 minutes for this.
Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the garlic then stir into the onions. Scrub and top and tail the carrots, cut them into small dice, then stir into the softening onions and garlic. Peel the shallots, leave them whole and add them to the onions.
After 20 minutes, stir the tomato purée into the onion, garlic, carrot and shallot mixture and leave to cook, with the occasional stir, for 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the bowl – carefully leaving behind the other marinade ingredients – and add them to the onion mixture.
Cook for five minutes, you will see a lot of red wine liquor appear in the pan from the mushrooms, at this point scatter the flour over the surface and stir it in, let it cook on a high heat for a couple of minutes then pour in the red wine and stock, mix well but gently (don’t break up the mushrooms) then bring to the boil. Leave it to simmer gently for about 30 -40 minutes until the liquid is dark, thick and rich. Season with salt and pepper and use a pinch of sugar and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to correct and intensify the flavouring.
While the bourguignon is simmering, make the mash. Peel and roughly chop the butternut squash into 1.5 cm cubes and steam over boiling water for 20 minutes or so until it is tender. Crush into a saucepan using a potato masher or push it through a ricer, there is likely to be some liquid so apply a little heat to evaporate it off, then add the butter and whip until it is light and fluffy. Season lightly and carefully and serve with the mushrooms. Scatter with a little chopped flat-leaf parsley to garnish.