Mushroom & Blue Cheese Ragout is one of those recipes that makes anything you serve with it, better. You can already tell by the photos, it’s not the tomato or meat based ragu we all love on pasta. Although when you taste this you might be tempted to pour it over pasta, or sandwiches, or eggs, or waffles … well, maybe not waffles, but you get the idea.
Several of our friends swooned over this sauce at various gatherings and it was on my mom’s list of recipes she wanted to take home after her visit last month. When I include Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Ragout on the menu for a party, there is usually at least one person expecting a red sauce. Then the question comes up about the difference between ragout and ragu because it sounds the same, though the two are quite different. This post is for anyone else wondering the same thing. Oh, and the recipe is roll-your-eyes-up-in-your-head good too.
What’s the difference between ragout and ragu?
Both come from the French word ragoûter (“to revive the taste”) and it is believed the ragus of Italy were influenced by ragouts of France due to Napoleon’s occupation of what is now the northern regions of Italy in the late 1700s. Also noteworthy is the influence of Italian cooks on French cuisine when Catherine de Medici married into French royalty in the mid 1500s. The Italians may point out they first influenced French cuisine and the French may infer that they in turn refined it, but it is undeniable we have all benefited.
Ragout and ragu are usually thick, long simmered and well seasoned. Ragu is typically a sauce for pasta and ragout is more like a stew, which can also be served as a sauce with meat like the recipe I offer here.
Ragout: A thick, seasoned French stew or sauce made with meat, fish, or vegetables.
Ragu: An Italian tomato and/or meat sauce, depending on the region in which the recipe originated.
Does a brief history lesson help?
Of course, once you taste it you may not even care if you know the difference, so long as there is enough for seconds. Fresh thyme accents the meaty flavor of crimini mushrooms and Blue cheese brings umami to the luxurious sauce. Depending on the Blue cheese you use and the amount, you may not need to add salt and pepper at all. Naturally thickened with cream, there’s no gluten to worry about so it’s safe for our gluten-free friends. Mushroom & Blue Cheese Ragout is a sumptuous sauce ideal for roasted or grilled beef, lamb, pork chops, or wild game—it makes any occasion special.
Adapted from Double-Mushroom Ragout at FineCooking.com
Mushroom & Blue Cheese Ragout
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion , Vidalia or Maui type
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 20 ounces cremini mushrooms , (baby bella) sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/3 cup dry Marsala
- 1/4 cup homemade chicken stock
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- In a 10 inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat with onions. Cook until onion is softened, 3-4 minutes, then add an additional tablespoon of oil and the mushrooms to the skillet with the onions. Salt and pepper mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms have released their liquid and browned, about 10-12 minutes. Try not to stir too much so the mushrooms have a chance to brown.
- Add the Marsala, chicken stock, and thyme to the skillet, stir to loosen browned bits, and cook until most of the liquid evaporates, 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the cream and simmer for 2-3 minutes to allow cream to reduce and create a sauce.
- Stir in blue cheese and parsley (more blue cheese can be added according to preference); salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with additional blue cheese or parsley and serve warm.
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