Make Shroom For This Dish by Mike Verano

I’m not going to lie, I’m a carnivore through and through. That being said, I have learned to both appreciate and enjoy many vegetarian dishes. Thanks to the fresh local produce from Off the Vine, I’ve gone from holding my nose while eating broccoli as a child (that’s a lie of course, I would never even touch broccoli as a child. Greens in my Italian family consisted of basil and parsley) to snubbing my nose at any dish that lacks color.

This brings me to another recently discovered culinary pleasure, the humble and diverse family of fungi. There was a time when I only made room for the mushrooms that sat adjacent to the pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, and more pepperoni on a pizza. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to find a pizza in the Verano household devoid of meat and featuring, instead, the fungi du jour. This transformation, this mushrooming interest, has grown so strong that I can now state that I will seek out dishes that make the most of the mushroom’s earthy, and yes, even meaty, quality.

Perhaps you have looked at those gigantic portabellas* that Tess carries and thought, “How am I going to cook these bad boys? They’re so big they scare the children.” Stay calm, assure the children that they’re safe, and head to your local wine shop and pick up a bottle of red wine. We’re going to blow the caps off these bad boys.

The recipe for Mushroom Burgundy came to us from my brother-in-law who, along with his wife, is a devout Vegan. For him, meatless does not equate with tasteless and the reflexive response of “This dish is good but what it needs is bacon” has long since passed. Again, in the spirit of full disclosure, I was skeptical when I first caught wind of a recipe that was, in my mind at least, trying to undo the very fabric of what holds the culinary universe together. I could almost hear Julia Child’s cry from beyond, “What have they done to my precious Boeuf Bourguignon?” It was, after all, the dish she introduced on her first episode of the French Chef.

As it turned out, my fears were unwarranted and Julia, rest her soul, would be proud of the version of the classic dish. First and foremost, is the fact that any recipe that calls for almost a bottle of red wine already has a leg up on the competition. Secondly, the massive OTV portabellas, hold up perfectly and if you close your eyes you may even believe you’re eating Boeuf (if that sort of thing is allowed at your dinner table). Finally, this is a great dish to say goodbye to winter with and it’s so good you might just find yourself making up excuses to have it again i.e. “It’s winter in the southern hemisphere, isn’t it?”

Mushroom Bourguignon

1 large yellow onion, diced
6 cups of portabella mushrooms cut into 1 inch strips. Feel free to use the stems.
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp minced fresh thyme
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 fresh sage leaf, minced
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup fresh peas
2 Tbsp arrowroot dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water
salt and pepper to taste

In large saucepan sauté onion over medium heat for 7 – 8 minutes. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time as necessary to keep onions from sticking. Add mushroom and carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Add the spices, red wine and vegetable stock, and tomato paste. Cover and simmer until mushrooms are tender. About 20 minutes. Uncover and add peas and arrowroot mixture. Cook for 5 minutes until thick and peas are cooked. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper.

This dish is great if served over mashed potatoes, polenta, or, if you want to go Vegan, mashed parsnips. Serve with a quality red wine and toast to Julia. Bon appetit!

 *Believe it or not, there is an ongoing controversy in the mushroom world about the correct spelling for this mushroom.  Purists insist that it be spelled portobello, making it sound Italian and thus exotic.  Meanwhile, the spelling portabella is prefered by the Mushroom Council (I’m not making this up) so as to put an end to this meaningless war of words and restore peace to kitchens across the globe ( I did make that last part up).

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