When I reviewed Deb Perlman's book "The Smitten Kitchen", I was totally enamored with her recipe for mushroom bourguignon. Since my wife and I are trying to eat less meat and more fruits and vegetables, I am always looking for great vegetarian ideas. This morning I ventured to our local farmers market and found some fresh wild porcini mushrooms and bought them not knowing how I was going to use them. When I was driving home I started thinking about cooking something Italian and I remembered Deb's mushroom dish. I thought mushroom stew, then I thought Italian and then cacciatore, the traditional Italian chicken stew came to mind. This is a great example of both inspiration and substitution. There are other versions out there but here is mine made with fresh porcini mushrooms.
2 to 3 pound fresh porcini mushrooms about 5 large
1 pound cremini mushrooms
1 medium red onion
3-4 Cloves of garlic sliced
2 stalks celery
1 red pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes
8 large roma tomatoes skinned
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 Tsp. porcini powder
1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese plus some rind if you have it
1 cup white wine
1 cup vegetable broth
splash of sherry or white balsamic vinegar
fresh herbs - basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley and oregano (one or more)
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot boil some water with some salt. Core the roma tomatoes and cut an "X" in the other end. Place in the boiling water for 30 seconds to loose the skin then remove to an ice water bath. Skin and coarsely chop and reserve until needed. Put the cherry tomatoes in a shallow baking dish, sprinkle with olive oil and kosher salt. Roast in 400 degree oven until darkened and let cool until needed.
Clean and prepare the veggies and coarsely chop. Heat a large skillet to medium high heat and add two Tbsp. olive oil. Chop the mushrooms into large bite-sized pieces and add to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until slightly softened, about 5 minutes then reserve until needed. Add more oil to the pan and add the onions and garlic, season and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the celery, carrots and peppers, re-season and sauté until they start to soften then deglaze with the wine. Cook for 5 minutes and reserve. Clean the pan, reheat and add some more oil then add the roasted cherry tomatoes. Add the tomato paste and sauté for a minute or two, then add the rest of the tomatoes and cook until they start to release some liquid. Add the dried herbs, then add in the reserved onion mixture. Stir to combine then add the mushroom and the fresh herbs. Top with the vegetable broth and bake in a 275 degree oven for at least an hour. Turn the heat down and let the flavors mingle while you prepare some pasta. When the pasta is ready, add a splash of sherry vinegar and grate some parmesan cheese over the top and serve over pasta. Let any leftovers cool and refrigerate. It tastes even better the second day.
Flavor boosters - I use a few tricks to boost the flavor, first roast the cherry tomatoes to add a sweet element. Second, I add tomato paste and let it brown a bit. Third, I always keep some porcini powder (ground dried porcini) around and save the parmesan rinds to add to any stew and last, a splash of sweet vinegar adds a brightness and extra sweetness.
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Spending almost thirty years in the computing field, I was able to travel experiencing a wide variety of tremendous cuisine. First I became a foodie, and when the opportunity arose, I was able to attend culinary school following my passion. I work as a part-time private chef and volunteer time at the community café in North Bend Oregon providing affordable meals in a restaurant setting to my community.