Stew of Spring Vegetables

Ragoût Printanier

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    6

    First-Course or Side-Dish Servings or Garnitures

Appears in

Glorious French Food

Glorious French Food

By James Peterson

Published 2002

  • About

In classic cooking, this little stew of carrots, turnips, pearl onions, string beans, and peas is made by cooking all the vegetables separately. The carrots and turnips are glazed using two methods, and the peas and string beans are cooked separately with lots of boiling salted water, a method the French call cooking “à l’anglaise”. The mushrooms are steamed, and the liquid they release provides the base for a small amount of sauce that coats the vegetables. Typically, the little stew is then strewn over a meat stew, or, in more formal presentations, each vegetable is arranged around the meat in its own separate mound. I also like to serve the vegetables, all tossed together, as a side dish.

Ideally, the vegetables should be combined and served as soon as they are done, but this isn’t always practical. You can get this stew started earlier in the day by glazing the root vegetables and allowing them to cool, and by cooking the string beans and peas (if you’re using fresh), leaving them a tad undercooked and draining and rinsing them under cold running water or plunging them in ice water. You can also steam the mushrooms and reserve them and the liquid they release.

Ingredients

  • 12 baby carrots, scraped, or 3 medium-size carrots, peeled
  • 12 baby turnips, unpeeled; or 2 medium-size turnips or 1 medium-size celeriac (about ¾ pound [340 g], peeled)
  • 1 pint (10 ounces [280 g]) pearl onions, or 12 walnut-size boiling onions
  • 1 tablespoon butter (for the carrots and turnips), plus 3 tablespoons (for the sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 10 ounces [280 g] small-to-medium cremini or regular cultivated mushrooms
  • ½ cup [125 ml] heavy cream
  • ½ pound [225 g] baby string beans (ideally, haricots verts), ends broken off, the string beans cut into 2-inch [5-cm] lengths
  • salt
  • 1 pound [450 g] fresh baby peas, shucked (about 1 cup), or 1 package (10 ounces [280 g]) frozen baby peas, thawed
  • pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley, chervil, or chives, or a combination

Method

If you’re using medium-size carrots, peel them and cut them into about 4 sections each. Cut the thickest sections in half lengthwise and cut out their cores. If you’re using medium-size turnips or celeriac, cut them into wedges—you should get about 6 out of each turnip and 12 out of a celeriac.

Glaze the carrots and turnips or celeriac à blanc, using about ½ tablespoon of butter and a pinch of sugar for each vegetable. Ideally, the carrots and turnips should be glazed separately, but if you don’t have enough pans, glaze them together. If you’re using pearl onions, peel them by plunging them in boiling water for a minute, draining in a colander, and rinsing under cold water.

Glaze the pearl onions or walnut-size onions à brun, again using about ½ tablespoon of butter and a pinch of sugar.

Rinse the mushrooms and put them in a pot with ½ cup [125 ml] of water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to maintain the water at a bare simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Scoop the mushrooms out with a skimmer and reserve. Add the cream to the liquid left in the pot and simmer until it reduces about one-third and begins to thicken slightly.

Plunge the string beans into about 3 quarts of boiling, heavily salted water and cook them until they’ve lost their crunch, usually 5 to 7 minutes, and drain. (Most people these days undercook string beans.) If you’re using fresh peas, give them the same treatment—you can use the same water if you fish the string beans out with a skimmer—but cook them for only 1 or 2 minutes. If you’re using frozen peas, don’t boil them.

Combine the cooked vegetables in a pot. If they’ve cooled off, or if you’ve cooked them ahead of time, put 1 tablespoon of water in the pot, cover the pot, and heat over medium heat for about 4 minutes.

Bring the mushroom sauce to a simmer and whisk in the remaining butter and the parsley. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper and add it to the cooked vegetables. Toss or gently stir. Serve immediately.