This makes a generous quantity. It freezes very well. Add extra vegetable or mushroom stock to dilute the sauce to make a very special mushroom soup.

You need

250g black or white mushrooms, finely chopped

50ml butter

1 large onion finely chopped

3ml pink pepper corns, crushed (optional)

1ml ground black pepper (optional)

2-3 sprigs thyme

125ml white wine (chenin blanc or chardonnay)

20ml sherry

20ml port

20ml brandy

10ml Worchestershire sauce

25ml tomato paste

150ml dried mushrooms (selection or ceps/porcini) soaked in 200ml warm water (optional)

200ml mushroom stock; soaking liquid from dried mushrooms, mushroom stock or vegetable stock

250-500 ml pouring cream

To prepare

Sauté the mushrooms in the butter, stirring them occasionally, until they are quite dry, but NOT burnt. Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the cream.

Allow the mixture to gently simmer until 50% of the liquid has evapourated. For a very intense flavour you can reduce the liquid until it is almost dry.

Remove the thyme twigs. At this stage you can use a stick blender and break the sauce down slightly, if you prefer a textured, chunky sauce. If you want a smooth, creamy sauce you can liquidise it further.

Now place the sauce on the heat and gradually add the cream, stirring and tasting until you achieve the level of creaminess and flavour balance that you enjoy. Bear in mind that the addition of the sauce to some foods such as pasta may ‘dilute the flavour’. Bolder meats such as grilled steak need a powerfully flavoured sauce, where a more delicate sauce works with chicken breast or fish.

Serve the sauce with meat, poultry fish or pasta.