When we talk about a great steak dinner we're really talking about the big picture of what's on your plate. The steak is front and center, but the sides are what makes it feel special. In fact, when it comes to steak dinners, a really good side can steal the show. In this series on Steakhouse Sides we're sharing recipes for the scene stealers so make sure you leave ample room on the plate!
Speaking of scene stealers, these buttery balsamic mushrooms have no qualms about being the true star of your steakhouse dinner. When cooked in a buttery balsamic vinegar sauce, the mushrooms become tender and infused with an intense, slightly sweet flavor. It only takes 15 minutes to put this side together, but given how decadent they taste, you'd think there would have to be something more complicated involved to coax out so much flavor.
Serve these mushrooms alongside your favorite pan-seared steak or pork chop and you might find yourself dimming the lights, lighting a few candles, and pulling out the white linen.
15-Minute Buttered Balsamic Mushrooms:
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The Pairing of Balsamic and Mushrooms
Balsamic vinegar and mushrooms are a flavor-packed power couple. The natural savory qualities in mushrooms provide contrast to the inherent tart sweetness of balsamic vinegar. In this recipe we punch up the flavor of the dish with a few extra ingredients. Brown sugar amplifies the mushrooms' savory notes, and a splash of soy sauce adds complexity and balance. Most of these ingredients you already have in your pantry, which means when steak is on the menu, you can take the least expensive, most everyday mushrooms and transform them into a vegetable side that feels decidedly elegant.
The Type of Balsamic to Use
Long-simmered, reduced Balsamic vinegar makes a killer glaze on many dishes from chicken to beets to pearl onions. This recipe takes advantage of that glazing power. A balsamic glaze at its core is vinegar that has been cooked over low heat until it's reduced in volume by about half and as thick as maple syrup or honey. Although you can certainly use the pricey, thicker, long-aged balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy, for this recipe, there is no need to splurge here — a regular one will do.
15-Minute Buttered Balsamic Mushrooms
large or 2 small shallots, peeled and finely diced
unsalted butter, divided
white or cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/8-inch thick
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons
finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons
packed light brown sugar
tamari or soy sauce
garlic, finely minced or grated
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat until shimmering, about 15 to 20 seconds. Add the shallots and cook until they begin to soften and brown at the edges, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes.
Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and stir until melted. Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper, and rosemary or thyme and stir well. Cook, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the mushrooms have a rich brown color on the edges and some of the sides, and have just begin to release their juices, 3 to 4 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft and tender and the liquid reduces in volume considerably, thickens to the consistency of agave or maple syrup, and coats the mushrooms, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and stir constantly, allowing the butter to melt completely and coat the mushrooms, until they shine and the sauce is a bit lighter in color, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.
Soy sauce substitutes: Steak sauce and Worcestershire sauce are excellent substitutes for the soy sauce.
Dried herbs: Dried herbs work nicely in this recipe. You can use 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or dried rosemary rather than fresh, but make sure to rub the dried herbs between your fingertips or press to grind in the palm of your hand just before you add them to the mixture, so the fragrance and oils will be released.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.