Erika Kerekes is a dot-com product manager by day and a relentless home cook and food blogger by night. She started writing In Erika’s Kitchen in 2008 because she was tired of hearing her mother ask “When are you going to write a cookbook already?” A native New Yorker, she now lives in southern California and marvels every day about the fact that food grows on trees in her backyard.
There are nights when only comfort food will do. In my house, these nights typically follow days like this:
- Wake up before dawn.
- Get two boys fed and into the carpool with their lunches, backpacks, completed homework, assorted permission slips, musical instruments and the like.
- Get to the office to find that more than 100 emails have accumulated while you were sleeping.
- Go from meeting to meeting, inhaling lunch (maybe) while dealing with the additional emails that have piled up during said meetings.
- Arrive home and realize that if dinner is not on the table in half an hour, there will be major meltdowns – and they won’t all be coming from the kids.
Comfort food means different things to different people, but for me it’s got to be hot, creamy, salty, and on the table fast. That’s why mushrooms often figure into my comfort dishes – they’re hearty, satisfying, and quick to prepare. We buy two-pound containers of Baby Bellas at our local Costco, and on a comfort food night, they’re the first ingredient I reach for.
This mushroom beef gravy is a cross between a stroganoff and creamed chipped beef, which, inexplicably, is what I was craving that night. It took just a few minutes to prepare; I served it over biscuits, but it would be equally good served over thick slices of toasted country bread if time is really tight.
Mushroom beef gravy
- 2 lbs Baby Bella mushrooms, cleaned
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup beef broth (or water plus 1 packet Savory Choice liquid beef broth concentrate)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Separate the stems from the caps of the Baby Bella mushrooms. Slice the caps. Put the stems into a food processor and chop finely.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Add the onion and the chopped mushroom stems and cook about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft. Pour in the sherry and stir until most of the liquid has boiled off.
Sprinkle the flour over the mushroom mixture and stir for a minute or two until it is well incorporated. Add the milk and broth, bring the mixture back to a boil, and turn the heat down. Simmer the mushroom gravy about 5 minutes more, or until the gravy has thickened and is creamy. If it’s too dry, add a little more broth or milk.
Season with salt and pepper to taste – if the broth was salty, you’ll probably want very little additional salt, and in any case you’ll want a good dose of pepper. Serve over warm biscuits or thick slices of toasted country bread.