Champignons à la Lucien Tendret

Mushrooms in the Manner of Lucien Tendret

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Appears in

A Canon of Vegetables

A Canon of Vegetables

By Raymond Sokolov

Published 2007

  • About

Lucien Tendret was the nephew of the great food writer and aphorist Brillat-Savarin. Tendret, himself a food writer, never left the family hometown of Belley, the provincial capital of a subregion, the Bugey, east of Lyon near Bourg-en-Bresse. In short, Tendret was a late-nineteenth-century country squire and lawyer whose sole distinction was his uncle. Not one to shrink from playing his only trump, Tendret published a pompous memoir of the cuisine of the Bugey in 1892 called La table au pays de Brillat-Savarin. It contains recipes for some grandiose dishes described in a fatuous and inflated prose. It is also a meticulous and winsome memoir of bourgeois ataraxy in those last few decades before the storm of modern life shattered his world. He was a mine writer, definitely.

But miniature masterpieces have their place. Tendret’s elegant turn on the basic recipe for sautéed mushrooms is comfort food for the already comfortable. If anybody cooks it in Belley today, she works off the calories at the municipal tennis courts on the avenue Lucien Tendret.


  • 1 pound mushrooms, gently rinsed and trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 5 tablespoons beef stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • 1 egg yolk


  1. Slice the mushrooms lengthwise. You should end up with about 5 cups .
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet. It should just coat the bottom of the pan. Add the mushroom slices and sauté over medium-high heat. They will quickly release a significant quantity of water. When this boils away, lower the heat to low-medium. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir well. Continue stirring while the flour browns, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the stock. Then stir in the cream. Simmer for 20 minutes. This will reduce and thicken the cream to a rich sauce. Season with salt and white pepper.
  4. While the cream reduces, whisk the egg yolk into the remaining ¼ cup stock.
  5. Remove the mushroom-cream mixture from the heat after the cream has reduced. Whisk the egg yolk–stock mixture into it. This will finish the sauce, giving it a richer, darker color, and the action of the hot cream on the egg yolk will thicken it further.

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