French sauces are among the most decadent in the world. And while the techniques of making them are clearly impressive, the heavy use of cream and butter is counterproductive in terms of healthy eating. As a sauce lover (and someone with self control issues), I had to come up with a different option; one that prioritizes both nutrition and flavor.
My adaptation, a vegan steak Diane sauce, employs the same techniques, but uses mushrooms as the base of the sauce instead of meat; with coconut oil and coconut cream in place of the butter and dairy cream. This recipe can accompany any dish. I have served it with white fish, lentils, tofu, on scrambled eggs or as a side dish of its own.
And while this sauce is vegan, it is still made by setting the liqueur on fire, caramelizing the sugars in the alcohol and infusing the sauce with the most potent of flavors.
Mushrooms (button or crimini), 4 ounces
Vegetable bouillon, 3/4 cup
Coconut oil (virgin), 1 tablespoon
Garlic, 1 clove
Worcestershire sauce, 1–2 tablespoons to taste
Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon
Coconut cream (using only the thick cream and reserving liquid for other recipes), 1/2 cup
Cognac, brandy or cointreau, 1/3 cup
Dissolve 1 vegetable bouillon cube in 3/4 cup of water (or use homemade broth). This will be used to make the stock (base) of the sauce.
Finely dice garlic and shallots. *If you prefer a smoother sauce, combine with a tablespoon of vegetable bouillon and purée the garlic and shallots into a paste. Set aside.
Slice mushrooms and sauté them with the garlic and shallots in a tablespoon of coconut oil (or use the garlic–shallot purée if you prefer the smoother sauce option).
Once the mushrooms start to brown at the edges and begin sticking to the bottom of the pan, slowly add vegetable bouillon. This step deglazes the pan to dilute the mushroom sediments stuck to the pan.
As the mushrooms cook, continue to add the bouillon a few tablespoons at a time. Simmer until the liquid reduces by a quarter.
Add worcestershire sauce and dijon mustard.
Add liqueur, turn off the stove, and use a match to set it aflame. If you are using gas burners, simply tilt the pan until the liquid catches fire and then turn off the flame. Let the flame on the sauce naturally reduce and die out.
*Safety note, if anything goes wrong, do not add water to the pan. Water doesn't mix with oil and can cause the fire to spread. Instead, always keep a top next to the stove and just put the top over the pan to cut the oxygen and the flames will disappear.
*If you prefer not to use flames, just add a dash of the liqueur to the mixture and let it reduce slightly.
Continue to simmer on a low flame and add coconut cream and salt and an ample serving of pepper and let the mixture reduce, while stirring, until creamy and slightly thickened.
Serve with meat, fish, vegetables or serve as a mushroom side dish by itself.