I love elegant meals in the middle of the week. The best part about this hearty dish from "The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook" is that the mushroom stew can be made a day ahead and reheats well. But even if you're not a planner, it can be thrown together relatively quickly for a weekday dinner. You don't have to cook it for hours to get the complex French flavors.
I used a combination of portobello and cremini mushrooms for richer taste and texture, as well as the vegetable broth. After I served it on egg noodles as author Deb Perelman suggests, my son said, "You know what? This would be better on mashed potatoes." That's the way we served it the second time, and I'd have to agree -- better to soak up the tasty sauce. Either way, this recipe is a keeper.
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices, without the stems (you can use cremini instead)
1 cup pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves ( 1/2 teaspoon dried)
Freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups beef broth (or vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Egg noodles, for serving
Sour cream and chopped chives or parsley, for garnish (optional)
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium-sized Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms and pearl onions until they begin to take on a little color -- your mushrooms will make a delightful "squeak-squeak" as they're pushed around the hot pan -- but the mushrooms do not yet release any liquid -- about 3 or 4 minutes. Remove mushrooms and onions from pan and set aside.
Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrot, onion, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and several grinds of black pepper into the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just 1 more minute. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half, which will take about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms and pearl onions with any juices that have collected and bring the mixture to a boil; reduce the temperature so it simmers for 10 to 15 minutes or until mushrooms are very tender.
Combine the flour and remaining butter with a fork; stir this into the stew. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to a "coating" consistency.
To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles, dollop with sour cream if using and sprinkle with chives or parsley.
-- "The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook" by Deb Perelman (Knopf, 2012)