Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tofu Espagnole

Earlier in the week, I made a sauce for some fried tofu that came out really well. You might notice that, yes, there is indeed chicken in this. So... be warned. I only gave up eating solid pieces of meat for my Lenten fast. I didn't give up using broth for flavor.

Anyway, the sauce came out really well. It was full of flavor, warm, and thick. The thickness made the tofu and mushroom stick together to form almost a stew, which just about put the dish into the "comfort food" category because of its warmth and savoryness. The tofu itself held up really nicely to the sauce, not overdone, but cooked in oil for a sufficient period of time to brown the outside of the tofu and give it some texture. I generally find that ghost-white tofu in soup is OK, but I prefer my tofu to have some color on it if I'm serving it as a meal. Per usual, having homemade stock on hand was a must for this recipe. Anyway, enjoy. This dish made me forget about meat for a solid 5 hours.

Tofu Espagnole

14 oz. Package of Firm Tofu
2 Tbsp. Peanut oil
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Flour
3 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Cup Baby Bella Mushrooms
1 or 2 Sprigs of Fresh Tyme
1/2 tsp Salt

You'll need a very large skillet for this recipe, or you can use two medium-large pans.

Heat oil in large skillet on high heat. While the pan is warming up, drain the tofu and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut the tofu into 1 inch by 2 inch by 1 inch rectangles. It is easiest to do this while keeping all of the pieces together in the same shape that they came in the package such that when you are finished cutting the tofu rectangles, they are all still neatly stacked together into one big rectangle.

Add the tofu to the pan, gently stirring every 3 minutes or so. The tofu should begin to brown on all sides. While the tofu is cooking, rinse, pat dry, and slice the mushrooms. When the tofu has browned on each side, add the mushrooms to the pan. Continue to stir, this time every minute or so.

When the mushrooms have begun to soften up and release their water, push the tofu and mushrooms all to one side of the pan, leaving as much room as possible on the other side for making the roux.

On the empty side of the pan, melt the butter in the pan, being careful to keep the butter all on the empty side of the pan and not mix with the tofu and mushrooms. Do not burn the butter! Once the butter is half or mostly melted, add the flour and mix with the butter until it forms a paste. Bring the paste closer to the middle of the pan and stir quickly until the paste darkens to a light to medium brownish color. Once your roux is brown, slowly add the stock and mix rapidly with the roux so that a brown sauce forms. Once the roux is fully incorporated into the stock, combine the tofu and mushrooms with the sauce. Turn the heat down and simmer the sauce, tofu, and mushrooms until the sauce is reduced by half. Shred the thyme with your fingers and add to the sauce while it is reducing. Add salt only at the end (since your sauce is reducing, early salting will just get concentrated later on). Serves 3-4.