Few chefs in the country run restaurants like Iliana Regan. Here in Chicago, Regan adheres to a philosophy of embracing what nature gifted us—not just what’s planted by farmers, but what grows naturally from the woods, in fields, along beaches. Regan’s become inextricably linked with the foraging movement, and the fruits of her expeditions could be experienced at her two restaurants, Kitsune and the Michelin-starred Elizabeth.
Naturally, a mushroom gravy seems fitting. Here, Regan teaches us an indulgent cream sauce that demands to be spooned over fluffy biscuits, perhaps chicken fried steak or crispy pork chops. Pretty much anything.
Iliana Regan’s mushroom gravy
1 cup assorted mushrooms (hen-of-the-wood, shiitake)
4 Tbsp. butter
2 caps red wine vinegar (or 2 tsp.)
1 cup water + 2/3 cup heavy cream, combined
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 Tbsp. fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop mushroom in quarters and slices. Over medium-high heat, sauté mushrooms in three tablespoons of butter until nicely golden. Add in two caps of red wine vinegar. Add one more tablespoon of butter, and sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour over the mushrooms, allowing it to sweat out and cook for a few more minutes. Turn the heat down to medium. Take the combined water and cream mixture, and pour half of this over the mushrooms, stirring constantly. Add the lemon zest and fresh thyme. Add the rest of the water and cream. Simmer over medium heat for several minutes, stirring regularly. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.