Yummy, yummy mushroom mixture that goes wonderfully well over anything bland – pasta, chicken, pork, or as a side dish. It’s very filling, so expect to be sleepy after you’ve had dinner….
- 2 large onions
- 500g (about a pound) of mushrooms, whatever sort make you happy
- dry white wine, or Cognac
- Italian seasoning
- Balsamic glaze/cream
- Salt and pepper
- a little olive oil
- truffle oil to finish, if you like it
Mince the onions, and sautee’ them over a slow fire with some olive oil until they’re translucent and a little brown. Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms or chop them up if you’re lazy, it doesn’t matter in the end.
When the onions are done, add the mushrooms and a palmful of the herbs, a little salt, mix around and let it simmer over a slow fire with a lid on it until the mushrooms are soft. Stir the mixture now and then.
Pour in a bit of booze, enough to cover the bottom of the pan, cover it up again. Meanwhile start your pasta water boiling (or whatever you plan to serve it with. I’m making it for pasta – fresh noodles from the market).
Taste it. Herby? Savory? Good. Add a generous squirt of balsamic glaze, and stir it so the mixture becomes a rich brown. Taste it some more. Adjust things until it tastes right. Turn the heat up a little, uncover it, and go have a drink of water.
What you’re aiming at is a nice, brown, rich gooey mess of mushrooms without much liquid. When it has reached that point, turn the fire off and cover it. When your pasta is ready, at the very last moment stir in some creme fraiche, mascarpone, Greek yogurt…anything rich and creamy, enough to just blend in and lighten the color of it a little. Pour over your pasta, finish with a drizzle of truffle oil if you like it, and serve.
This is really rich, so I like to serve it with a nice big salad and fruit for dessert. Dried figs stewed in red wine and balsamic are a great choice, but too heavy for Spring.
A nice light, dry while wine is perfect with it, and some lovely crunchy crusty bread to scrape your bowl with.
Otherwise more prosaically known as venison stew. I adapted a recipe I found online. These are the ingredients I used:
- 1 kilo boned venison shoulder
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- 150g piece smoked streaky bacon or pancetta diced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 can Champignon ragout (or cream of mushroom soup)
- 1 package sliced mushrooms
- 300ml dark beer
- 2 tsp soft light brown sugar
- 1 or 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- a few squirts of balsamic cream
- salt, pepper, and chili oil
- 500g potatoes, the kind that dissolve when you cook them long enough
- Roasted baby carrots and mash, to serve
I cut the venison up into 1 inch cubes, and seared them over high heat with the oil, then reserved it to a bowl.
Then I minced the onion, and sauteed them slowly in the same pan until translucent, and a little brown. Then the pancetta. And then tossed the whole mess into the bowl with the meat.
Into a large, heavy bottomed stainless steel pot went the mushroom ragout. I rinsed out the sautee’ pan with a little beer, and poured it into the pot. You don’t want to miss out on all the yummy brown stuff! Then I dumped in the meat/onion/pancetta mixture, then the sliced mushies. While stirring I added the flour a little at a time, then the sugar, then poured in enough beer to just cover it all.
- VERY IMPORTANT! This stew is only going to be as good as the beer you use. Find the best, richest, heaviest, darkest, most alcoholic beer you can get your hands on. Something made by Belgian monks is a good choice. Guinness would work too, but you want something a little sweeter if you can get it.
Add the thyme, bay leaf, pepper, and a little salt. Bring to a slow boil and then reduce to the barest simmer, cover, and walk away for an hour or so. Then add the balsamic cream, and chili oil to taste. Stir it, and correct as you think is good. Add the potatoes. Cover it and let it cook for at least another 2 hours. Sometimes during that, come back and mush up the potatoes so that they are reduced to flour. This will thicken your stew perfectly. If you don’t want to use potatoes, you can use flour or corn starch, but becareful and add it a little at a time, stirring a lot and allowing the flour to absorb liquid before you add more. You don’t want to turn it into glop.
Total cooking time: about 3.5 hours for it to come out right.
I served this with roasted carrots and mashed potatoes:
- Cut up a bunch of baby carrots by slicing them lengthwise. Toss with olive oil and salt, spread in a single layer in a baking sheet, and pop into a 400 degree oven (200C) until brown and yummy. Roasting brings out the carroty flavor in a marvelous way.
- Boil 500g potatoes (the right kind – in The Netherlands there are so many kinds of potatoes you really have to be careful! Here, you need the “vast” or “solid” potatoes for this) until you can easily pierce them with a fork. Drain them, throw in some butter, mash them, add a little roasted garlic – I use the kind that comes in a jar because I’m lazy – and some milk or cream, salt and pepper, and mash until they are the consistency you want them. Cover and let rest for 5 mins while you assemble the meal.
If you made only enough stew for one meal, right before serving, add a big bag of spinach and stir it in. The heat of the stew will cook the leaves just right. If you made enough to have leftovers, don’t do that, cos the spinach will turn yucky when you re-heat it. Instead, pack the bowls you intend to serve the stew in with spinach, and then ladle the meat over it. Wait a few minutes and stir it up.
- This will add visual interest to an otherwise really boring looking bowl, it tastes good, and spinach is really good for you!
Enjoy! This is really, really good, and very easy!
Turn the oven on very low, set out an oven-proof dish that will hold all your stuff, pasta included and then…Make Stuff. Once you have made Stuff, put it in the oven-dish, and cover it up. Here’s one version of the Stuff you can make to go in this.
Boil a bag or two of fresh pasta, or if you’re feeling adventurous, make your own. I’m generally way too lazy for that, but it’s unquestionably going to be yummier if you make your own. Well, if you’re any good at making pasta, anyway. When it’s cooked to just slightly less than the softness you prefer, drain it and toss it in a bowl with some butter or olive oil, just enough to coat it and keep it from sticking together. Put it in the covered oven dish. In the oven.
Sautee’ a pile of cut-up fresh mushrooms in butter or olive oil, salt and pepper, and maybe some white wine (or red, if you don’t mind purple mushrooms). I think the wine gives a lovely flavor so it I use it if I have some. Pour in the wine and cover the ‘shrooms, letting them simmer until tender. Remove the lid and raise the heat, cooking off the liquid. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms. Put them in the covered oven dish.
In the same pan, pour in a bunch of carrot rounds and peas. Cook the same way as the mushrooms, until the carrots attain the desired level of softness and the peas are tender. I like to brown the carrot slices a little, so I turn up the heat just toward the end. Put them in the covered oven dish.
While you’re doing all this, in a small pan slowly cook some really good bacon, sliced into lardons. If you’re Dutch, use the bacony-bits (spekreepjes) you can get at Albert Heijn. They’re awesome in this stuff. When the bacon is good and browned but not crumbly – cook it slowly! – remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and then cook some diced onion in the bacon fat. Remove both items to the covered oven dish.
Cube some meat. I’ve tried chicken, Aimee has tried pork. I bet this would be completely fabulous with shrimp, or some filets mignon. Cut into 1-2 inch cubes, and sautee in a stainless steel pain with some butter (Butter. Not olive oil, this time. Butter!), salt, pepper, and thyme. As a gauge: For two chicken breasts, I use about a level teaspoon of dried thyme. Sautee until nicely browned, and remove from pan, dividing it into whatever bowls you’re planning to serve your meal in. Turn the heat down, deglaze the pan with a generous amount of cognac, then pour in some heavy cream. If you’re making this for two people I’d use about half a cup. Lengthen it a little with some half and half, sour cream, yogurt, or creme fraiche. Stir in some mustard – a generous teaspoon at least, some salt and pepper, and turn up the heat, stirring constantly until the cream is thick, slow pouring, and richly brown. (Caveat: if your chicken didnt leave enough browny stuff on the bottom of the pan to turn the sauce brown, then add a little more mustard for flavor and carry on anyway). Salt and pepper to taste.
Take your pan out of the oven, and distribute pasta, bacon and vegetables over the chicken cubes, pour the cream sauce over the lot and toss it until everything is creamy and coated and delicious. This is not a particularly attractive looking meal, so I didn’t photograph it, but…be prepared to over-eat.
You can vary the Stuff any old way. If you’re low-carbing, you should skip the pasta and add more veggies, like broccoli and cauliflower. Zucchini. Sweet peppers. Use whatever veggies you have on hand – that’s how this was born:
..oO( what’s in the fridge that needs using up? )