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Mushroom sauce may be creamy in texture, or it may be made with stock and perhaps some wine. The mushrooms used in this sauce may be chopped or sliced depending on their size, variety and the cook's preference. Mushroom sauce is typically served over pasta, meat or poultry.
Sauteed mushrooms may be stirred into a white sauce, or roux, that is made from milk and butter plus flour as a thickener. This results in a creamy sauce that may also have a bit of a smoky flavor from the sauteed mushrooms. The additions to this basic creamy mushroom sauce may include cooked, chopped bacon. The sauteed mushroom mixture could also include chopped onions. Rather than bacon, Parmesan cheese may be stirred into mushroom sauce just before serving.
Some cooks like to add cooked vegetables to a creamy mushroom-based sauce and serve it over pasta. Leftover cooked chicken or beef may also be added. By placing this type of mixture in a baking dish, a casserole can be made with mushroom sauce as the binding ingredient. Since a white sauce can be made thin, medium or thick depending on the amount of milk used, creamy mushroom sauces may be of any consistency. Medium mushroom sauces are usually best for casseroles.
Wine- or broth-based mushrooms sauces are often much thinner than creamy versions. After the mushrooms are sauteed in oil or butter in a pan, the broth and/or wine is added. The heat is usually set to medium or a little higher to allow any browned mushroom pieces from the bottom of the pan to be lifted while the cook is stirring the sauce. Flour or cornstarch may be stirred into water first and then added to the simmering sauce in the pan to thicken it.
Pepper and garlic are common flavorings to add to any type of mushroom sauce. Green peppers or other vegetables are also sometimes included. Mushroom sauces can be tasty toppings for filled pasta such as tortellini. They can also top steak or chicken, especially if mashed potatoes or rice are used as side dishes. The combination of mushroom sauce and potatoes or rice can be delicious.
Another way to use mushroom sauces is to enhance the taste of leftover cooked meat or chicken. In this way, mushroom sauce acts as a gravy which may be poured over slices of heated, cooked poultry or meat. Again, rice or mashed potatoes make a tasty side dish. Another way to do the leftovers though is to create open-faced sandwiches by placing warmed chicken or meatloaf slices on top of bread before pouring on the mushroom gravy.
I really like adding mushrooms to a standard spaghetti sauce. It makes all the difference in the world when you have those good, hearty mushrooms in the sauce. I just cut them to bite-sized pieces and then saute them with the onions before I add the tomato sauce.
If I feel like doing a meatless meal, the mushrooms add enough heft to the sauce to make a great meat substitute. I just add a salad and maybe some garlic bread if I'm feeling like I want it, and that's the meal. It's easy enough to add mushrooms to just about anything and turn it into a mushroom sauce.
I like a brown-gravy type of mushroom sauce, made with pan drippings, flour and some stock. I think that just brings out the richness of the mushrooms. Adding a little red wine, works, too.
I just always make sure to cook the sauce enough to get the raw flour and alcohol flavors mellowed out. That's a necessity for a good gravy or sauce. You have to make sure the flour is cooked enough to taste toasted and not raw. That will ruin the flavor of any sauce, white, brown, mushroom or whatever. It doesn't take long to get the sauce cooked – just allow a couple of extra minutes to make sure all the flavors have melded.