Just like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, another total comfort food for me is creamed mushrooms. While I was searching around for a good image to go with this post (I forgot to take a photo of the ones I made Friday night), I came across a recipe from the actress Lillian Russell for creamed mushrooms.
Lillian Russell was a noted beauty and actress from the late 1800s, early 1900s. She died in 1922, meaning that Lillian Russell was actually making and eating creamed mushrooms 90 years ago. And her recipe is pretty darn good. She actually knew way back in the early 1900s that adding lemon juice to a dish would brighten its flavor. Only now, the fancy chefs call it “acid” instead of lemon juice.
So creamed mushrooms: I made them Friday night because I didn’t have anything else in the fridge. Dice an onion and saute it in butter with some salt and pepper until the onion starts to brown. Take eight ounces of mushrooms and add them to the pan. Brown the mushrooms and then add a splash of Madiera. Reduce the liquid until there’s almost none left. Add a pint of cream and continue cooking until the cream takes on that lovely mushroom color and reduces to a thick sauce. Taste and add more salt if it needs it.
Split and toast two English muffins. Butter them (I know, I know, butter on top of cream but it’s really best this way). Ladle the creamed mushrooms over the muffins. Yum.
By the way, while we’re talking mushrooms there are a few fallacies out there that many people brighter than me have already dispelled, but it’s worth pointing out that:
1. You can wash whole mushrooms with no ill effect. A lot of TV chefs say it will make them soggy but noted food scientist Harold McGee notes that since mushrooms are mostly water anyway a brief rinse before cooking doesn’t hurt them at all.
2. Salting mushrooms while they’re cooking does not make them tough. Harold McGee doesn’t offer an opinion on this, but I’ve been cooking mushrooms for 35 years and I know they turn out fine if you add salt to the pan.