Sometimes You’re the Bug, and Sometimes You’re the Windshield

It was a gorgeous Southern California day: blue skies, sun shining and temperature creeping into the high 90’s. T informed me of a farmers market in our neighborhood that is held every Thursday, and as fate would have it, it was Thursday and we needed food for the house. So off we went with Liam and Jack in tow (Stella wanted to stay home in the comfort of the air-conditioned house).

The produce was amazing. Beautiful heirloom tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, strawberries, peaches (I used these for the LN2 ice cream at the track) – you name it, they had it. Honey, soaps, fresh flowers, beef and seafood, the list goes on and on! We were nearing the end of the market when we came across these beautiful, lush, cremini mushrooms – of course, I had to have them. I wanted to make rich, creamy, roasted mushroom gravy! It’s so easy to make, and very versatile. You can use mushroom gravy on steaks, pork, pasta, polenta, rice and so many other dishes. I had been itching to make some mushroom gravy, and thought it would be great to have them on hand in the fridge for quick and easy meals.


I’ve made this at school several times, and it’s super easy and tasty. I start off by wiping the mushrooms clean with paper towel. Then I chop them up, put them on a baking sheet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and put them in a 350F oven for about 30-45 minutes until they’re golden brown. When they’re done, I put them in a medium sized sauce pan and heat them up to a sizzle, then add 4 tablespoon of red wine to deglaze the pot.  After adding ½ cup of vegetable stock, I reduce the heat to a simmer. Off the heat I added 1 cup of half and half, and 1 cup of milk. This particular time, I simmered this concoction for about 20 minutes.

The kitchen smelled wonderful. Patsy and Tori even popped their heads into the kitchen and asked what we were having for dinner.  When I told them what it was – and that I was going to serve it over grilled polenta – I watched as their mouths watered and big smiles took over their faces.


But then it happened.  As I went over to check my gravy and do some last minute seasoning adjustments and tasting, I was horrified at what I saw in the pot. My mushroom gravy had turned purple!  I mean . . . Purple!! What bizarre chemical reaction had taken place when I turned my back?? Did the kids throw a purple crayon in my gravy?? I was truly stumped. It tasted great, but visually it was unappetizing. I tried to add a little more cream to it, but it just made it a lighter purple. Needles to say, the grilled polenta didn’t happen. T and Patsy said they didn’t mind, but I could see in their eyes they were off-put by the color.


To this day, I still can’t figure out what happened. I need your help. Does anyone out there have any ideas what happened to my mushroom gravy? Please submit your theories and try and fix my kitchen fail!

Why do you think my gravy turned purple?  Have you ever had a kitchen fail like this?

- Dean


Gourmet Dad
  • Kathleen O

    I’ve had mushrooms do that to me too. It’s the mushrooms, not your other ingredients. Sounds like excess zooxanthelae due to too much light.

    Try a couple of dashes or Worcestershire, soya sauce, or even some concentrated beef Bovril. Just watch the sodium content. You can always throw in a cut potato to soak up the excess salt.

  • AlexLV

    I think it might have something to do with the spores or age of the spores. That said, my mom always instructed us to cook mushrooms in an enameled pot to retain the colour. But think of the kewl Halloween dish you could make!

  • Dolphingirl

    This has happened to me too and I didn’t use cream or half and half I used chicken stock. I think it’s the mushrooms for sure.

  • lulu mama

    It is the deglazing. The heat breaks down the colour, and you get a off worldly purple. The trick is to line a bowl with plastic wrap and then pour the wine. The chemical that causes the wacky purple color is attracted to the plastic wrap.
    i guess being a science geek helps in the kitchen.

  • Darren

    Hey dude… I’ve had cream of mushroom soup before that was kinda purple looking. As long as it tasted great, I wouldn’t worry about it. You could’ve tried gravy browner but that would’ve thrown off the taste a ton! I’m sure it was delicious anyways! I’m gonna try the recipe and hope for the best ;)

  • LinnTwinMomma

    I love the purple and would have totally eaten it up! It is just the shrooms! I can’t believe your kiddos didn’t go crazy for it! We have had purple dinners around here…

  • Cd Gardner

    I feel your pain. I have found that unless I am going to do a beef or lamb dish, I make my gravy or sauce with a white wine to deglaze. The mushrooms really soak in the wine.

  • Kitty

    Wow. With all those delicious looking ‘shrooms I’d have eaten it anyway.