Throwback Thursday: Mushroom Sauce

Mushroom sauce was always there, somewhere, on every restaurant menu. Sometimes, it even had mushrooms in it. But I wouldn’t put money on that.
In hotel dining rooms, steakhouses and a million other eateries, mushroom sauce has been offered with a steak, sometimes with chicken or veal, even fish on occasion, for what seems like forever. Nine times out of 10, it arrived draped over your steak as if the chef was ashamed of what lay underneath his gloopy, flour-thickened “sauce”; a “sauce” unworthy even of the word. So why, oh why, are mushroom sauces still made so badly?
That “mushroom sauce” beneath which, somewhere, out of sight, is the steak you ordered at the kind of steakhouse where the Cordon Bleu is called Gordon Blue and there’s still chicken schnitzel on the menu and has been ever since the joint opened in February 1963. The gloopy, flour-sodden “sauce” with no discernible sign of actual mushrooms, because the only mushroom in it is from a packet of soup granules. That is not a mushroom sauce.
If there’s one thing that has me red in the face at any restaurant and frothing at the bit, it’s a bad mushroom sauce. The kind of mushroom sauce in which the taste of flour dominates any remote vestige of hope that a mushroom, any mushroom, even one mushroom, had ever been within a city block of the kitchen where that sauce was “made”. The kind of mushroom sauce that, if you scooped some up and held it aloft, some of it would drip down below the spoon but most of it would be reluctant to let go, as if hanging onto the ladle for dear life. Because the balance is all wrong; it has no flow; it is an affront to the tradition of sauce making.
Key to using flour in a sauce is that it takes time to cook out; which means for the flavour of the flour to disappear, incrementally, over a full 15 minutes while the sauce is stirred over a low heat. If you are not prepared to spend that time in your restaurant kitchen so that we can be served a mushroom or any other flour-thickened sauce worthy of the name, find a naughty step, because that is not how to make or serve decent food.
Also, the amount of flour used to thicken a sauce should be sparing; only as much as it ...