Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fiddleheads and Mushrooms in Beurre Blanc

Beurre Blanc is one of those classic French sauces that you think will be difficult and involved, but when you actually check the recipe, turns out to be pretty simple. In the beurre blanc (white butter sauce) that I prepared tonight, there are only 7 ingredients:

6 tbs. vegetable stock or dry white wine
2 tbs. white wine vinegar
3 tbs. minced shallots
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs. half-and-half or heavy cream
8 tbs. cold, unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

I've made curries that were three times as long. It should be noted that to keep the sauce lightly colored, white pepper is preferred. I ran out, so my sauce tonight had a more "rustic" look with the addition of black pepper. I also used Himalayan pink salt. Ooo, fancy.  

But, preparation doesn't start with the sauce -- it starts (and ends) with fiddleheads. If you haven't read my inaugural post and the advice about preparing fiddleheads, you might want to take a gander if this is a new food for you. Otherwise, read on.

After the fiddleheads (use 1 1/2 cups) have been properly washed and trimmed, blanch in boiling water to which you have added up to a teaspoon of baking soda. This is Memere's trick for taking any bitterness out of the vegetable. But don't leave them in there too long -- one minute! -- I think I left mine in too long tonight because I found them a bit bland. My memere's cooking tends to be a little overcooked for my tastes, well-salted and peppered, but otherwise not very perky or seasoned. Try to avoid this pitfall.

Meanwhile (and it won't be a long while, so have everything ready to go), heat a tablespoon of butter in a small skillet. When melted, add
  • 1 c. sliced mushrooms
I used shitakes. When they're ready, add the fiddleheads. Sautee lightly until the fiddleheads are cooked but still bright green. Remove from skillet.

Prepare the beurre blanc. Heat everything up to the s + p in the list above until reduced by about 1/2 - 3/4. Stir in
  • half-and-half
Remove from heat and KEEP WHISKING. That's important. Whisk in, like it's your job, one piece at a time:
  • the 8 tbs. of butter
Once the butter is combined, gently fold in the fiddleheads and mushroom and serve immediately.

I served (to myself) the fiddleheads with some brown rice and green lentils (very simple -- just boiled in half water, half vegetable stock) and a fennel-orange-fig salad, dressed simply with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

I just want to add that even though I eat mostly healthy foods, this dish contains a HUGE amount of butter and should be eaten in moderation. I was going to put goat cheese on the salad, but frankly, I couldn't even think about it. I'm stuffed.

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