All things important start and end up in my kitchen. Decisions of monumental import to our family are made while peeling potatoes, washing up, roasting vegetables or deciding what dinner service I am going to use for guests who haven’t dined with us before.
The kitchen is and has always been the geopolitical centre of our family’s existence. While watching my grandmother make shortbread to die for, I was initiated into the world of politics, sport, business, trivia, politics (did I mention politics), word play, history and gossip (especially political gossip). God did we love gossip! My grandmother was a shocker.
There was a magazine cover on our fridge for eons which in very bold type only had the words, “WHAT US? GOSSIP? NEVER!” – just the words, nothing else.
But we always came back to and for the food. For me food is the legitimate excuse for the on going and noisy interaction that has gone on in our family from generation to generation. Discussion is more a political discourse and a political debate is more a parliamentary division. But there is always the food. The wine. The laughter.
MUSHROOMS in RED WINE and CHOCOLATE SAUCE.
Can you imagine a Europe without chocolate? What a miserable joint it must have been. Then the Spanish discovered South America. Define discovered as meaning plundered, pillaged, raped thereby establishing a healthy, geopolitical, cultural pursuit continuing to this day. But apart from the golden horde the object of unquestioned public benefit introduced to Europe was – CHOCOLATE.
The Spanish (bless their cotton sox – for it was genuinely the only thing they introduced of real worth to the rest of the world apart from paella and hunky professional tennis players, and I am not so sure about the paella) for a long time saw chocolate just as a rich spice and so they added it to their main course dishes. I don’t know whether it was the Spanish who then added sugar and butter to the bloody stuff to become the forerunner to Nestle and Cadbury or not but they shall be forever remembered for adding chocolate to main dishes of chicken and rabbit. – INSPIRED GENIUS.
I now go one step further and add chocolate to any main dish or its associated sauce containing red wine. It turns a reasonably competently cooked meal into the realms of the divine and all because of 50-70gms of dark unsweetened chocolate. MAGIC!
It is not that everything suddenly tastes chocolaty – it doesn’t. I am not sure what happens really. All I know is that dishes and sauces are suddenly richer in texture as well as flavour.
So with no apologies to the wonderful French for my faffing around with their boeuf bourguignon or anything else in red wine sauce because they really should have thought of adding chocolate themselves – here is a very simple recipe for mushrooms in red wine and chocolate sauce and is heaven on a stick when coupled with a simple char seared piece of eye-filet.
30gms unsalted Butter *
250gms of any kind of mushroom or a mix of mushrooms that take your fancy
1 cup of red wine
½ cup of stock
5-10 gms unsweetened dark chocolate. (Get the button things they are easier to throw into any kind of dish you are preparing and they melt more quickly).
Combine the wine and stock into a saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer for approximately 10 minutes so that it is reduced. Meanwhile melt the butter in a pan and when the butter has almost melted add the mushrooms. Unlike me (as I am always rushing and late), don’t overcrowd the pan with all the mushrooms at once or they won’t brown and cook evenly.
Add the reduced wine stuff to the mushrooms with some seasoning and stir. And the very last step at the end of the process – add the chocolate. As it melts the chocolate should thicken the sauce. You don’t want the chocolate to cook, just melt and be mixed through the sauce. If the sauce isn’t thick enough for your taste then add some small cubes of cold butter to finish off the thickening process.
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
*(Don’t give me any malarkey about not cooking with butter. I love cooking with olive oil but when it comes to browning, adding flavour and thickening sauces nothing compares with butter. If you must be politically correct then by all means use oil but add a small nob of unsalted butter to it so the food can get a little bit of an even break. The question must then be asked if you feel the need to cook only with oil when you should be cooking with butter in certain instances, why are you reading a recipe about adding chocolate to a dish?)