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Food Network Favorites: Cream of Mushroom Egg Noodle Fake-Bake, Hold the Canned Soup

Seriously, that's the title. And when you've got a cutesy title and a recipe that takes way longer than 30 minutes to prepare, you know you're in Rachael Ray territory.

However, aside from the title ("Fake-Bake"? Really?) there's not a lot to fault this recipe for. It's a tasty combination of egg noodles, mushroom béchamel sauce, and sautéed mushrooms.

Food Network Favorites emphasizes the "30-Minute" element of Rachael Ray's persona in their asides and blurbs in this chapter. It's her hook, and I understand why she sticks to it so fiercely, but I've got to wonder if there's eventually going to be a backlash against the notion that all of Ray's recipes can be prepared in 30 minutes. Because they can't. This one is a case in point.

You've got to chop, slice, and then sauté several different kinds of mushrooms, boil noodles, make a sauce, assemble the casserole, and broil it. It took me about an hour from start to finish. The end result is worth the effort; the flavors are excellent. But I wish that Rachael Ray and the Food Network weren't trying to sell me so hard on the idea that it would only take 30 minutes to prepare.

A minor quibble; it's annoying to have to buy 2 packages of pasta in order to get 1 pound of noodles, which is what this recipe calls for. Most egg noodles in my area are sold in 12-oz. packages, so to get 1 pound, you need to eyeball about 1/3 of a second package. I think it wouldn't make a huge difference to prepare this recipe with a 12-oz. package of egg noodles.

I've added dry vermouth as an option for deglazing the mushroom sauté. Ray's recipe calls for white wine or chicken broth. If you don't usually keep white wine around the house, dry vermouth is an excellent alternative in recipes like this, since it keeps indefinitely in a cupboard, and gives a nice flavor to the mushrooms.

One more thing: Rachael Ray refers to extra virgin olive oil as "EVOO." And every single time it's called for in one of her recipes, it appears thusly: "1 Tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)." I don't quite see the purpose of using an acronym if you're just going to spell it out anyway. In my transcription of the ingredients list below, you won't be seeing any instances of EVOO. Olive oil is what you need; olive oil is what it's going to say.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Mushroom Sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
12 button mushrooms (about 8 oz.), brushed clean and finely chopped
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream or whole milk
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mushroom Sauté
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 portobello mushroom caps, stems removed, halved and thinly sliced
8 oz. mixed wild mushrooms, such as shiitakes, oyster, woodear, chanterelles, lobster (use whatever wild mushrooms are available), stems trimmed and caps thinly sliced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme (from about 4 sprigs), finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup white wine, dry vermouth, or chicken broth

1 pound extra-wide egg noodles
Softened butter (about 1 Tbsp)
3/4 pound Gruyère or Swiss Emmentaler cheese, shredded
3 Tbsp chives, chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

For the mushroom sauce: Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter. When butter melts, add the chopped button mushrooms and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the chicken broth and bring to a bubble, then stir in milk or cream. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer. Season with nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

For the mushroom sauté: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil then add the shallot and mushrooms. Cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Season with thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Deglaze the pan with white wine, vermouth, or broth. Reduce heat to medium-low and let the liquid cook off.

Preheat the broiler to high. While the mushrooms cook, drop the egg noodles into the boiling water, add some salt, and cook the noodles to al dente. Drain the noodles and return them to the hot pot. Add the mushroom sauce to the pot and toss the noodles to coat.

To assemble casserole: Lightly grease a casserole dish (about 9-by-13 inches) with softened butter, then transfer the noodles and sauce to the dish. Top with the mushroom sauté and the shredded cheese. Put the casserole under the broiler and melt the cheese until it bubbles and browns at the edges. Garnish with chives.



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