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Mushroom Cream Sauce


Choirgirl21
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I'm preparing a bit of an indulgent meal for myself tomorrow (calorie wise) - seared ribeye, wild mushroom ravioli w/cream sauce, and some CSA veg TBD (sadly, probably zucchini or yellow squash). Anyway, it dawned on me that since I really got into cooking, I have not attempted to make a simple cream sauce for pasta from scratch. I've got cremini and shitake mushrooms, butter, 2 kinds of parm, and heavy cream, plus chives, parsley, garlic, and shallots. Help me put something together?

I was thinking saute olive oil, garlic and shallots for a minute, then sliced mushrooms. Once they're cooked, add heavy cream, a little butter and some parm, serve over ravioli, and garnish the dish with freshly grated parm and chives. But I'm wondering if deglazing at some point with wine or liquor of some sort would help (otherwise, there's no "acid" and I used my last lemon tonight). I'm also worried about the sauce "breaking".

Sorry this is long. Tonight was crabcakes and sauv blanc, heavy on the sauv blanc. :rolleyes:

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As far as your sauce "breaking" if you add an acid, you don't have to worry because heavy cream doesn't curdle because of a little bit of acid, or if it is boiled. You are on the right track--sauté your shallots and mushrooms in EVO and/or butter, deglaze with some white wine and a little chicken stock (optional). REDUCE. Add your heavy cream. REDUCE. Add your ravioli, still a bit al dente. Cook the ravioli in the sauce for a couple of minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add some pasta cooking water, more cream or stock. If too thin, reduce more. If really too thin, make a slurry of corn starch and a little bit of water and add to thicken sauce. Turn off the heat. THEN add the parmesan cheese. (Lydia Bastianich insists on this!) Sprinkle on some chopped fresh herbs.

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As far as your sauce "breaking" if you add an acid, you don't have to worry because heavy cream doesn't curdle because of a little bit of acid, or if it is boiled. You are on the right track--sauté your shallots and mushrooms in EVO and/or butter, deglaze with some white wine and a little chicken stock (optional). REDUCE. Add your heavy cream. REDUCE. Add your ravioli, still a bit al dente. Cook the ravioli in the sauce for a couple of minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add some pasta cooking water, more cream or stock. If too thin, reduce more. If really too thin, make a slurry of corn starch and a little bit of water and add to thicken sauce. Turn off the heat. THEN add the parmesan cheese. (Lydia Bastianich insists on this!) Sprinkle on some chopped fresh herbs.

Zora's advice is sound, but often shallots and garlic--esp. if chopped very fine--can brown too deeply in the high heat required for a proper, moisture-extracting mushroom sauté. To avoid this I usually sauté the mushrooms separately in butter and/or olive oil first (don't forget to add a pinch of salt at this stage to aid in water extraction), then remove them with a slotted spoon leaving as much of the cooking fat in the pan as possible. Then do the shallots and garlic and proceed with the rest. Add the mushrooms to the finished sauce and simmer briefly to meld flavors before serving. This method also has the advantage of maintaining the texture of the mushrooms, which can get broken or soggy in the process of reducing and finishing the sauce.

ETA: I find a dash of lemon juice at the very end is essential to brighten the flavor of a cream sauce, even one that already contains wine.

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Thank you! I was just reading up on making a cream sauce online and thinking it wasn't helpful b/c everything I was finding was about making a roux first and while I suppose I could do that and cook the mushrooms separately, I was hoping to just do everything in one pan.

Two questions - I have an open bottle of sauv blanc so I can use that, or I was also thinking something like sherry would be nice with the mushrooms. I think I have an oloroso sherry, a madeira, and some kind of port. I also have sherry wine vinegar.

Also, I noticed that the cream sauce recipes actually call for whole milk, not cream. I have either skim or 2% - I could mix the milk and cream together to essentially make whole if that would be better than using straight cream (or alternatively, as good of a result, but healthier).

Thoughts on either (I know, I'm nitpicking now)?

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Thank you! I was just reading up on making a cream sauce online and thinking it wasn't helpful b/c everything I was finding was about making a roux first and while I suppose I could do that and cook the mushrooms separately, I was hoping to just do everything in one pan.

Two questions - I have an open bottle of sauv blanc so I can use that, or I was also thinking something like sherry would be nice with the mushrooms. I think I have an oloroso sherry, a madeira, and some kind of port. I also have sherry wine vinegar.

Also, I noticed that the cream sauce recipes actually call for whole milk, not cream. I have either skim or 2% - I could mix the milk and cream together to essentially make whole if that would be better than using straight cream (or alternatively, as good of a result, but healthier).

Thoughts on either (I know, I'm nitpicking now)?

Any of those wines would work, but would result in sauces of very different character. The most Italian version would use white wine (or Marsala). For that purpose Sauv. blanc or Orvieto work very well. Madeira would be tres francais, something for Tournedos, as would Port. Sherry would add a somewhat Chinese flavor, at least in my mind.

Use cream. Pref. heavy cream.

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Thank you! I was just reading up on making a cream sauce online and thinking it wasn't helpful b/c everything I was finding was about making a roux first and while I suppose I could do that and cook the mushrooms separately, I was hoping to just do everything in one pan.

Two questions - I have an open bottle of sauv blanc so I can use that, or I was also thinking something like sherry would be nice with the mushrooms. I think I have an oloroso sherry, a madeira, and some kind of port. I also have sherry wine vinegar.

Also, I noticed that the cream sauce recipes actually call for whole milk, not cream. I have either skim or 2% - I could mix the milk and cream together to essentially make whole if that would be better than using straight cream (or alternatively, as good of a result, but healthier).

Thoughts on either (I know, I'm nitpicking now)?

I would use the sauv blanc and allow the mushrooms play against the cheesy, creamy sauce. Not that the sherry is bad-also a good idea. I would use this or other fortified wines in the preparation if I were putting the sauce over say seared steak or pork.

If you use milk, be it 4% or 2%, I adivise making a roux-bechamel-cheese sauce. It jus wont have the mouthfeel, body and ability to beautifully coat the pasta if you don't use cream.

Interestingly, I just treated Mr. MV and myself to an alfredo pasta with shrimp. I say treated, because I feel an alfredo dish is best with the fat of the cream, so when I make it, I resolve to exercise more and "play now, pay later"!

I know it will be a while before I make it again, and it was so, so worth it. I used cream and heavy cream (no roux). Ouch! and Yum!

To add-agree with lemon (to brighten) and fresh parsley to finish.

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Oh, I forgot, I have marsala wine too. :rolleyes: I think I may just stick with the white wine - I'm afraid I'll end with something cloyingly heavy/rich otherwise.

That's right. Cheese with any of the other wines would actually be kinda gross. Use Port or Madeira for beef and veal steaks, and Marsala for a classic dish of scallopini with mushrooms.

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Also, I noticed that the cream sauce recipes actually call for whole milk, not cream. I have either skim or 2% - I could mix the milk and cream together to essentially make whole if that would be better than using straight cream (or alternatively, as good of a result, but healthier).

Anything with less butterfat content than heavy cream will curdle when boiled, especially if there is any acidity involved, UNLESS IT IS MIXED WITH A STARCH. In other words, if you want to make your sauce with milk, to be less "rich" or "healthier", you have to make it with a roux. Not long ago, that meta-info was made so much clearer to me when I learned that yogurt can be cooked and will not curdle, if it is mixed with cornstarch. So, theoretically, you could make your mushroom cream sauce with some yogurt in it, as long as the yogurt were mixed with some cornstarch before being added to the sauce. I'd still stick with cream, though.
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Not long ago, that meta-info was made so much clearer to me when I learned that yogurt can be cooked and will not curdle, if it is mixed with cornstarch. So, theoretically, you could make your mushroom cream sauce with some yogurt in it, as long as the yogurt were mixed with some cornstarch before being added to the sauce.
Zora, what if the yogurt already contains cornstarch? I was just wondering with grocery store brands, they usually contain cornstarch, so would you need to add additional, if the grocery types were used? Just curious.
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Zora, what if the yogurt already contains cornstarch? I was just wondering with grocery store brands, they usually contain cornstarch, so would you need to add additional, if the grocery types were used? Just curious.

It's hard to know without trying it. I would do an experiment, but with inexpensive ingredients, so if it doesn't work, you haven' lost a lot. My other thought is that yogurt with starch in it is usually pretty crappy stuff. Why not use good Greek yogurt or goatmilk yogurt and add some cornstarch to it, if you are going to use it in a sauce?
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Hi all, just wanted to say thanks again for the input. The cream sauce turned out really great - it's one of the few dishes I've made that I thought could have come out of a restaurant. I think the key was that I took great care to brown the mushrooms well on a higher heat spread out in a huge pan, in a mix of evoo and butter.

When they were cooked, I added a little more butter, then cooked the shallots and bit of garlic, then "deglazed" with a good bit of sauv blanc. Reduced, then added a mix of milk and heavy cream (mostly heavy cream) and reduced. Added grated parm and once melted, added the ravioli to finish cooking. Topped with grated parm and chives. Picture attached for "fun". I cooked the ribeye using the method I learned on here (oven at 275, then sear in the pan) and served with an Eric Ross cab I had been saving for something like this.

Thanks again!!

MushroomCreamSauce.jpg

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Anything with less butterfat content than heavy cream will curdle when boiled, especially if there is any acidity involved, UNLESS IT IS MIXED WITH A STARCH. In other words, if you want to make your sauce with milk, to be less "rich" or "healthier", you have to make it with a roux. Not long ago, that meta-info was made so much clearer to me when I learned that yogurt can be cooked and will not curdle, if it is mixed with cornstarch. So, theoretically, you could make your mushroom cream sauce with some yogurt in it, as long as the yogurt were mixed with some cornstarch before being added to the sauce. I'd still stick with cream, though.

Thank you Zora! NOW I know why my last two sauces (using light cream) curdled.

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