Braised Mushrooms, Shallots, and Chestnuts

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by Beth Gawthrop Reily

This simple but elegant braise has all the deep flavors and aromas that comfort and soothe in cold weather. A few wild mushrooms mixed in would be sensational. Serve the dish with any sautéed or roasted poultry or meat, or on its own with a green salad. Exact quantities matter less than the slow browning and concentrating of flavors.

1½ T. butter

8 to 10 whole shallots, peeled and a shallow X cut in root end

12 medium-size mushrooms such as cremini or baby bella, stems cut flush

12 shelled chestnuts 

½ cup dry sherry or Madeira

1 sprig fresh thyme + more for garnish

½ cup chicken stock (low sodium if store-bought) or other stock appropriate to your dish

Salt and pepper to taste

In a pan just wide enough to hold the shallots, mushrooms, and chestnuts in one layer, melt half the butter over medium-low heat.

Add the shallots and cook them, turning occasionally, until they begin to color, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms with the remaining butter and cook, stirring, until they exude their juices and turn a rich brown, 7-8 minutes more. Check to be sure the bottom of the pan doesn't burn as the liquid evaporates (you can add a little more stock or water).

Add the chestnuts and turn to coat them in the juices. Add the sherry with the thyme and stir to dissolve the dark crusty juices.

Add the stock and let it reduce to a sauce-glaze. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve at once garnished with fresh thyme, or chill to reheat gently for another time.

Serves 4.