Mushroom Gravy For A Rainy Day
(a mostly Ukrainian recipe with some Czech influences mixed in)
You will need:
– 1 very large onion, or 2 medium onions, peeled and diced
– 1-1.5 lbs of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced. (You can use whichever mushrooms tickle your fancy. I’m a big fan of the simple brown mushrooms, with the occasional portabella mushroom sliced in.)
– 3-4 cups of water or mushroom broth
– 4-5 tbsp butter
– around 1 cup of rye or spelt flour (or any flour… darker grains taste better)
– salt and pepper to taste
– just under 1 tbsp of caraway seeds (these are ESSENTIAL!!)
How to Make The Gravy:
1. This step is essential to Ukrainians, but optional for Czechs and perhaps westerners. In a cast iron pan over medium to high heat, brown your flour. Just toss in your flour and stir it around until it cooks a little and turns brown. Set aside to use later.
2. In a large frying pan, gently melt 1 tbsp of the butter over medium heat and add onions to simmer. Keep covered and stir occasionally until onions become translucent (around 5 minutes). Do not burn or brown onions.
3. When onions are tender, add mushrooms to the pan to cook. Add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and cover for another 5 minutes. When mushrooms have softened, add salt and pepper to taste. Add caraway seeds and stir. Keep onions and mushrooms covered until needed again.
4. In the meantime, using a medium sized pot, gently melt the remainder of the butter over medium heat. When butter is melted, add 1-2 tbsp of the flour and stir to make a creamy butter-flour base. If mixture is too pasty or sticky, quickly add a tiny bit more water and stir until even. If mixture is too runny, add a small amount of flour and stir until the mixture has a consistent, velvety texture.
5. The next 10-15 minutes will be all about watching and stirring. Gradually add more water to the pot. Stir constantly over medium heat. In a separate bowl, mix 1-2 tbsp more of flour into 1-2 tbsp more of water to make a thick, creamy mixture. Add to pot and stir in until smooth and the gravy base begins to thicken.
6. Keep alternating between adding small amounts of water and small amounts of flour mixed with water until you have approximately 3 cups of a thick, rich gravy base in your pot. Do not add flour to the pot by itself, as it will clump and make your gravy have an unappealing, doughy texture. Do not add too much water or flour at any one time, as your gravy needs to thicken up slowly but surely over the course of 10-15 minutes.
7. When your gravy mixture has a nice, smooth but thick texture, add the pan’s worth of sauteed onions and mushrooms. Stir together to form a gravy to die for! Add more salt or pepper as needed.
8. Serve gravy warm over potatoes, perogies, dumplings, cabbage rolls, or some pork-based sausage product (like klobasa or the like.) Savour every moment!!
The gravy will keep in the fridge for up to one week after preparing it. Simply warm up over low heat before serving again. Yum!