PCC’s Mushroom Stew Recipe

Back in the days, just two and a half months ago, I could pop into the local PCC Community Market near enough to walk to and peruse the items available on the salad bar, soup bar or hot bar. Whenever I saw Mushroom Stew I made it a substantial part of my main dish for that meal. I might add it to some rice, or roasted vegetables or potatoes. Most often, I would make my main dish Mushroom Stew. Always hearty and satisfying, a main dish of Mushroom Stew could make a dreary day cozy and comforting.

We could all use a little comforting coziness right now. Not to mention mushrooms pack a good dose of vegan goodness. While not quite plant, they are, afterall, a fungus that does not produce chlorophyll from the sun, they are not considered animals either. Mushrooms are the only non-fortified vegan source for D Vitamins. They also contain long chain polysaccharides and in particular alpha and beta glucan molecules that can help maintain an effective immune system. Antioxidants such as selenium, Vitamin C and choline can also be obtained by eating mushrooms. The list goes on and includes potassium, fiber and all sorts of other good-for-you nutrients.

Even without all those healthy components, I would still eat mushrooms because I love how they not only soak up the flavors of herbs and spices, but add their own umami yumminess to any dish.

Healthy or not, for the love of mushrooms

When all the restrictions to daily life began to be imposed in our area starting in early March, one of the first was the closing of the self serve hot bar at my local market. What was I to do without my main dish Mushroom Stew? The solution, find the recipe online at the PCC Community Market recipes page. I include the basic recipe here and also have added a couple of tips I have discovered in making it myself and sharing the recipe with friends.

INGREDIENTS: 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1/2 yellow onion, diced; 3 ribs celery, diced; 1 (or two) carrots, scrubbed and diced; 1/4 pound portobello mushrooms, sliced (or chopped about one large mushroom); 1/4 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced; 1/4 pound white button mushrooms, sliced (or all white or all crimini, or any other you like and have); 2 teaspoons dried thyme (2 Tbls. Fresh); 2 teaspoons dried oregano (2 Tbls. fresh); 1 bay leaf; 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2-3 small cloves); 1 teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon black pepper; 1/2 cup red wine; 8 ounces mushroom broth; 1 cup water; 2 cups tomato sauce; 3/4 pound russet potatoes (or what you have), cut into 1-inch cubes ( I cut mine into half inch or smaller cubes to cook them a little faster.)

My notes on remaining ingredients: After the stew is done, and if you have refrigerated or frozen it, after it is thawed, and re-heated, add 1 cup frozen peas and 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley just before serving. You don’t want the peas to turn into grey mush. The stew can also be served without the peas, as I have done when I forget them a couple of times. I have also done without the tomato sauce, substituting either a few squirts from a tube of tomato paste I keep on hand in the fridge, or a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, as good for even better.

The How-to for Mushroom Stew, with my variations

DIRECTIONS In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.

My preparation differs right at the start. After adding the onion, I sauté them until they soften and even caramelize a little. Then I add the mushrooms; sauté for several minutes or until the mushrooms brown slightly and begin to give up their liquid. Then I add the celery, carrots and thyme, oregano, bay leaf, garlic, salt and pepper. Continue sautéing until the mushroom liquid has mostly evaporated and they begin to brown and stick just a bit.

Mushrooms, onion, celery, carrots and fresh thyme and oregano
Makings for Mushroom stew

Deglaze the pan with wine. Deglazing to me means there has to be something starting to stick a little to scrape off the pan. Bring mixture to a boil, and then add broth, water and tomato sauce. Return to a boil. Another note. The first time I made this I used a boxed Mushroom broth I had to hunt down since the stores where I usually shop were out. Also, unless I have another immediate use for mushroom broth, opening a quart container for one cup risks wasting the rest. Instead, I had some bits of dried mushrooms and added the stems and ends of carrots and mushrooms, celery trimmings and onion skins as I peeled and chopped. I added two cups of hot water and simmered them on the stove while preparing the rest of the recipe. Then I strained the reduced broth to use for the stew. I like it thick, so I pass on the extra cup of water.

Add potatoes. I sometimes err on the light side with the potatoes as well as water if I am going to be serving the stew thick over baked potatoes, since potatoes in the stew is redundant. Whenever you do add the potatoes, lower the heat; simmer for 25 to 30 minutes (or less if you cut the potatoes in small pieces), until potatoes are soft. Add frozen peas during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Extra Touches

Whether you follow the PCC recipe or my variations, I don’t think this stew will disappoint. I will say, if you can stand the wait when the kitchen fills with those aromas, set it aside in the fridge for a day and it will be even better. Also, because I currently have an abundance of fresh herbs in the garden, including thyme and oregano I need to trim before they devour the paths, I go to the extra effort of using fresh herbs. Extra tip: Although I am not much of a red wine drinker, I discovered a red wine that not only is perfect for this stew, I actually enjoy drinking it. 14 Hands “Run Wild” Juicy red blend is the one we have found at a good price at the local drug store!

Chopping fresh thyme
Chopping fresh thyme

If you are in the neighborhood and read this, let me know. I will be happy to supply you with all the fresh herbs you’d like for this recipe. Let me know in the comments if you try this and like it. Pass it on. Share the love!

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