Eggplant Bourguignon? Oui to vegan version of classic French dish

On a trip to Paris in July, my partner and I ate a dish that was the perfect meeting of our palates. Let me explain: Although not a vegetarian, my partner usually abstains from meat and seafood. On the other hand, I love both. I often have to search longer for foods that we both enjoy, or hunt for restaurants with diverse menus that suit both tastes. The dish we had in Paris was a variation of beef Bourguignon – the classic preparation of beef stew in red wine – but in place of beef were large chunks of braised eggplant.

The dish appears halfway through the tasting menu lunch at Septime, a restaurant in the 11th arrondissement run by chef Bertrand Grébaut. We hadn’t planned to go there, but after discovering that most of the restaurants on our list were closed on Mondays (due to rookie fault), it happened to be nearby and (really) surprisingly, considering how hard it is to get a reservation) there was an open table (surprising considering how difficult it is to score a reservation). It turned out to be one of the best things we’ve both had on the whole trip, or in recent memory.

Large chunks of eggplant are coated in a rich winey sauce, garnished with small mushrooms and wrapped in cellophane slices of French ham topped with fried tarragon leaves. It tastes like the classic but tastes better: The creamy eggplant interior offers relief from the rich sauce, where the typical beef balls would just accentuate it.

When I come back to LA, I want to make the dish for both of us again. But to suit my partner’s taste, I also want to be completely vegetarian. Yes, a lot of the restaurant dish’s flavor comes from braised chicken and cured ham cuts, but its focus is on a vegetable; I want to keep it that way in every sense. And in late summer to fall, when eggplant is at its best – but we see cooler weather in Southern California – I feel it’s the perfect dish to tie the seasons together.

Changing the traditional braised beef into a surprisingly simple vegetarian dish. Trade butter for olive oil? Test. Exchange chicken for vegetables? Test. And trade beef for eggplant? Easy. The rest of the dish is herbs and wine and spices. The key to creating a vegan – or in this case, vegan – classic version is to add a few other ingredients to create a meaty, non-tender flavor that’s often found in animal fats and proteins. provided.

Instead of just using vegetable stock, I soak the dried mushrooms in warm water so that they diffuse the umami quality as much as possible. The soaked mushrooms are also chopped and stirred into the sauce, which doubles the flavor of the traditional sautéed mushrooms in the dish. I also stir-fry the ingredients of the dish one by one for flavor good luck (in French cooking, the word means the “essence” of the ingredients; more commonly, innocence or brown flakes on the bottom of the pot) to add flavor to the stew.

First, I fry the tarragon leaves in clean olive oil so that they can taste with the characteristic freshness of anise. Then I fry the sliced ​​mushrooms in the infused oil, cook them at a lower temperature than usual so their moisture evaporates and they begin to slowly brown. After removing the mushrooms, I browned the eggplant, turning the plate of eggplant 1 ½ inch thick until golden brown on both sides, similar to wilting the outside of the tenderloin. Then when good luck there is a layer of tarragon, mushrooms and eggplant, I add onions, celery, carrots and garlic to absorb all the essence on the bottom of the pot.

The type of eggplant that is the key to this dish’s success – or at least its reinvention – is, too. You can absolutely cut a giant, dark purple Italian eggplant into large pieces, but I prefer to use the narrower plate of Japanese/Chinese or Fairytale eggplant, as they mimic a Perfect way of beef cuts in traditional dishes. Additionally, their skin is intact around the entire piece which will keep the tender interior from breaking apart in the cooked dish. However, if you’re worried about the skin being inedible, don’t. It cooks until the end so that each piece of eggplant is soft.

After an hour in the oven, slow and slow cooking with the broth of mushrooms, thyme and bay leaves, it’s time for the final step of the dish. In the traditional beef version, room temperature butter is mixed with an equal amount of flour – this is called beurre flour – and then whisked into the sauce to thicken, like the inverted form of a roux. While it’s not absolutely necessary, I wanted to retain that detail to add a luxurious, glossy texture to the sauce that would have been missing without the meat-based gelatin’s backing.

However, in my vegan version, I mix the flour with some olive oil, and it still works perfectly. The sauce is thick enough to coat the eggplant pieces in a rich mushroom gravy that I then drizzle over the tercous with a spoon to absorb all the wonderful flavors that took me so long to build. . While it may not look as sophisticated and inviting as the restaurant’s inspiration, it’s something I take pride in serving my partner and all of my dinner guests, as we anticipate time. Cooler weather and a reason to eat hearty stews can find a place for everyone at the table.

Get the formula:

Time1 hour 45 minutes

yieldsServes 4 to 6 Eggplant Bourguignon? Oui to vegan version of classic French dish

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