Mushroom ragout

Before the mushroom made it big

The mushroom used to be a foodstuff with no particular links to any social class; it was as likely to be found on the plates of the rich, in the form of a ragoût to accompany meat, as on the plates of poor peasants, who had gathered the mushrooms themselves in the woods and fields. The “mousseron”, a meadow mushroom found in spring and autumn, was prized for its pleasant flavour and the ease with which it could be dried and stored. It was during the First Empire that the mushroom really made it big. The field mushroom (“rosé des près” in French), already being cultivated in kitchen gardens in springtime, adapted itself well to the mild and constant climate of the quarries in the Paris region. In 1810, a farmer from Passy, Chambry, created a mushroom for all seasons by throwing, some say by accident, the soil and manure from mushrooms that would not grow into the abandoned quarry at the foot of his garden. To his surprise he was able to harvest some magnificent specimens at the height of summer. The button mushroom (“champignon de Paris”) had been born.


1 packet of dried mushrooms, or fresh mushrooms
white wine

Period Recipe

Place the mushrooms in a saucepan, with some butter, a bunch of parsley and some chives; sauté with a pinch of flour, then moisten with some broth, half a glass of white wine and the same amount of meat broth.  Cook for a good hour then spoon off the excess fat; add a little thick vegetable coulis, if you have any; if you have none then simply add a little more flour, then season with salt and pepper.  The mushroom and morello mushroom ragout is made in the same way except that you must wash, shake and rinse the morello mushrooms in order to get rid of all the sand.  La cuisinière de la campagne et de ville, Paris : Audot, 1818

Bon appetit

1. If using dried mushrooms, soak them for 2-3 hours in lukewarm water. Drain them over a bowl to collect the juice.
1a. If using fresh mushrooms, brush off any dirt and rinse them briefly under running water.
2. In a frying pan, brown the mushrooms over a moderate heat initially, so that the juices flow, then gradually reduce the heat.
3. Cover with the juice and white wine.
4. Add a little parsley and chives when cooked.
Fried mushrooms make the perfect accompaniment to rice pilaf.

Type of Recipe