Food + Travel Writing

Travel and food writing by Christina Crisostomo. New York/Toronto-based.

Recipe: Deb Perelman's Mushroom Bourguignon

For a second there, I thought we had escaped winter’s clutches and I wouldn’t get to write about my backlog of cold-weather ready recipes. Unfortunately for all of us, it’s freeze-your-face-off cold in New York today, and the only acceptable course of action is to stay inside and make this mushroom bourguignon—a vegetarian take on the French classic.

My past attempts at beef bourguignon have not been so successful, likely because I keep trying to find ways to speed up the process when it’s really meant to be a slow dish. Lesson learned: Never trust a “quick” beef bourguignon recipe, unless you’re into tough and stringy meat (or making your dinner party guests wait an additional hour for their meal. Oops.)

The beauty of this recipe is that it has all the great, rich flavor of a beef bourguignon, but comes together much more quickly. As a plus, it’s vegetarian, despite it tasting very "meaty." My vegetarian office lunch bunch was skeptical, but there really isn’t any meat in there!

I feel like I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but this mantra comes to mind almost every time I make a knockout vegetarian recipe: “You won’t miss the meat.” It’s so good that you might even hope for a frigid winter day like today to make this dish.

Mushroom Bourguignon (via Smitten Kitchen)
Serves 4

I don’t have a Dutch oven, and my heaviest saucepan wasn’t very wide, so I had to sear the mushrooms in batches. This took up a lot more time (and butter) but still made for an extremely tasty dish.

2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more if needed for searing mushrooms in batches)
2 tablespoons butter, softened (plus more if needed for searing mushrooms in batches)
2 pounds portobello and/or cremini mushroom caps, in 1/4-inch slices (reserve the stems for another use, maybe in a green bean casserole?)
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon)
2 cups vegetable broth (or beef)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)

Egg noodles prepared according to package directions, for serving

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter in a wide, heavy saucepan (or Dutch oven if you have one) over high heat. Sear the mushrooms (in one layer if possible, or in batches if using a smaller saucepan) for 3-4 minutes until they start to take on color, but do not release any liquid. You may need to add more olive oil or butter if searing in batches, but make sure to reserve one tablespoon softened butter. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Lower stove to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the carrots, diced onion, and thyme (seasoned to taste with salt and pepper) for 10 minutes, and stir occasionally until the onions are lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for one more minute. Adjust seasonings as needed.
  3. Add wine to the pot, scraping off anything stuck to the bottom, then turn heat to high and reduce the mixture by half. This should take 4-5 minutes, but keep an eye on it.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste, broth, and mushrooms with any juices.
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender.
  6. Add pearl onions and simmer for five more minutes.
  7. With the fork, combine the remaining tablespoon butter with the flour, and stir mixture into the stew to thicken. Adjust seasonings if needed. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to a consistency where it can coat a spoon.
  8. Spoon over egg noodles to serve. Other serving ideas: Deb serves her recipe with sour cream and chopped herbs, I think mashed potatoes or crusty bread would be great.