I noticed recently that there’s one section of Macheesmo that’s a bit lacking: The Side Dishes category. I guess this might just be because I usually post full meals, but sometimes people are just looking for a killer side to serve with their dinner of choice.
This sort of surprised me when I realized it because, frankly, side dishes are some of my favorite things to make. Stick together two or three delicious sides and you can have a really great meal.
The thing that’s important to me with a good side dish is that it only has a few ingredients and is relatively quick to make. Both of these criteria are spot with these delicious brandied mushrooms.
And that’s why you should give them a shot!
Yield: Serves 4.
1 pound button or cremini mushrooms
2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 Cup brandy (or whiskey or sherry)
Salt and pepper
Parsley, for garnish
1) Lightly rinse mushrooms, scrubbing off any dirt. Pat them dry with a paper towel and slice them into quarters or halves depending on size. Also mince the shallot and garlic and set aside.
2) Over high heat, get a heavy pot heating. Once hot, add oil or butter to the pan along with mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms release their liquid, maybe 5 minutes.
3) Add shallots and garlic and continue to cook until mushrooms are tender.
4) Add Brandy and deglaze pan, scraping up any bits stuck to it. Continue to cook until brandy is evaporated, about a minute.
5) Season with salt and pepper, garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.
There’s kind of this ongoing debate about mushrooms and whether you should wash them or not. The story goes that if you wash them, they absorb water and therefore won’t cook nicely. Since they’ll have extra water, they will basically steam rather than brown.
This sort of makes sense, but it turns out to be pretty false. Alton Brown did a really thorough test on this a few years ago where he weighed a bunch of mushrooms, gave them a rinse, then dried and weighed them again to see if they retained any water. The final mushrooms weighed almost exactly the same as the starting mushrooms.
So, feel free to give your mushrooms a quick rinse if they need it. Just make sure to blot them dry before cooking them.
I gave mine a quick rinse, patted them dry with a paper towel and then chopped them into halves or quarters depending on the size. You want to make sure that each mushroom piece is roughly the same size so just use your best judgment.
These guys are ready to go.
The only other thing you need to prep for this recipe is dicing up a shallot and some garlic to give the mushrooms a bit more flavor.
Brandy will do a few things for us in this recipe. One, it will deglaze the pan, picking up any little stuck bits of garlic/shallot/shroom that will add some flavor. Second, as it cooks down the sugar in the brandy will stick around and lightly caramelize around the veggies.
If you don’t have brandy handy, you can use whiskey or sherry for a similar effect.
Cooking the mushrooms
These guys will take just a few minutes once you have everything prepped.
To start, get a heavy pot going over high heat and once it’s hot, add your oil or butter and the mushrooms. The mushrooms should absorb the liquid and the pan should be pretty dry at that point. This is good because it’ll mean a good sear on the shrooms.
After a few minutes, the mushrooms will start to release their liquid. You’ll notice some water developing in the pan. Most of it should evaporate pretty quickly. At this point, add your shallot and garlic. If you added them before now, they would most likely just burn.
After a few more minutes, the mushrooms should be cooked and a dark brown color. Add your brandy to the pan and use the liquid to scrape up any bits stuck to the pan. The brandy will cook off in just a few seconds so make sure you stir quickly to get all the mushrooms nicely coated.
Don’t worry. All the alcohol cooks off from the brandy leaving just the flavor. Speaking of alcohol, be careful if you’re using an open flame to cook these. The alcohol can light on fire and if you’re not ready for it, you might have some scorched eyebrows!
It shouldn’t catch on fire though unless you tilt the pan or have a really big flame.
Anyway, once the brandy is evaporated, your mushrooms are ready to serve!
Definitely season with salt and pepper and as a final touch I like to garnish these guys with some fresh parsley which really brightens up the earthy mushroom flavors.
And it’s pretty.
This is a really quick side dish to make and the flavors are really good. The brandy isn’t over-powering at all, but it gives a nice flavor and sweetness to the dish.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy side dish, this is a great one.