Human beings are fickle creatures. A little ol’ change in weather instantly alters a person’s cravings. Last week, I wanted nothing more than a lovely iced tea, then suddenly the weather turned cold and gray, and I found myself desiring a bubbling, thick stew. Its fragrant steam rising and warming the face. Since I’ve been eliminating both meat and carbs more and more, I decided to cook a mushroom stew recipe that I’ve been making for years.
Okay, I understand, culinary purists probably will take issue with the name. Mushroom stroganoff. There really isn’t such a thing. Being a cook rather than a chef, though, perhaps I can get away with the error. Besides, stroganoff and I have a bit of a history. When I was a kid, my mother sometimes worked evenings. On those nights my dad would routinely make a dinner that he called beef stroganoff. Other American kids probably consumed the exact same dish. Ground beef browned in a pan, with a can of cream of mushroom soup concentrate then mixed in, along with a little milk for thinning. Served over egg noodles, of course. Excellent comfort food. So for years, I believed that this dinner was a real beef stroganoff. It wasn’t until much later, when I had gone away to college and was learning more about food, that I discovered that a beef stroganoff actually contains slices of beef, mushrooms, sour cream, and other good things. What a revelation. I made it on occasion, when I could scrape together the funds to purchase beef. Years later, after graduate school, I could better afford meat, and wouldn’t you know, that is when I began to eliminate it from my diet. (To date I haven’t quite succeeded completely, but I’m trying. I cook with other meats on occasion, but haven’t purchased beef in half a decade.) That is when I concocted this stew. Since Paulo and I both love mushrooms, I doubled down on them, while eliminating the beef. (My carnivorous Paulo is such a good sport.)
This stew is warm and fragrant, redolent of wine and sweetly sauteed onions, along with a hint of thyme, and packed full of juicy, plump mushrooms. Use whatever mushrooms you like, whatever you have on hand or easily can acquire. I tend to use white button mushrooms or baby bellas, because they can be found in any of the nearest groceries. I usually eat the stew as is, but Paulo likes it served over mashed potatoes. (Paulo is of the mind, and I can’t say that I disagree, that anything tastes better when poured over homemade mashed taters. Or topped with melted cheese. Or served with an ice cold beer. Or, really, all three.) Eat it with whatever you wish. This stroganoff will warm you through and through as winter sets in.
4 T oil (approximately)
2 lbs mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup red wine
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp prepared mustard
1/2 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt, or coconut milk)
Add 1 T oil to a wide, deep pan and warm it over fairly high heat until it shimmers. Add just enough of the sliced mushrooms to fit in a single layer without crowding (about 1/4 of the mushrooms). Brown the mushrooms, stirring just a few times, until they are nicely caramelized on their surfaces, about 4 minutes. (The high heat and non-crowding will help the mushrooms brown rather than making them soggy.) Transfer the mushrooms to a large bowl. Repeat the browning process with the remaining mushrooms, adding additional oil in between, until they are all browned. (This will take about 4 batches.)
Turn down the heat to medium. Drizzle 1 T oil into the empty pan. Add the onions, sprinkle with a little salt, and saute until they begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute until the onions are tender. Pour in the broth and wine. Add the thyme and plenty of freshly-ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer vigorously, uncovered, until the volume of liquid has reduced by half. Stir in the mustard and the mushrooms, along with their accumulated juices. Add salt, if needed. Simmer until the mushrooms have heated through. Stir in the sour cream. Serve as is, or over noodles, or with thick hunks of bread, or with crackers….