I have been a vegetarian for 17 years. Most of the time I don’t really miss meat, primarily because I don’t remember when I did eat meat! But come winter I do lust after pot roast and stews. I remember my mom’s pot roast – I might have only been 10 when I ate it, but it left a lasting impression. And stew has been one thing that I have not been able to recreate. But this recipe – this recipe! is the recipe I have been waiting 17 years for. 17 long years. Now I just need large vats of this stuff so that I can eat it at every meal. It is thick, it looks meaty and the smell is amazing. It almost makes me wish I could turn back the clock a couple of months so that I could make this all winter long. But alas it is almost spring. And I have a feeling this will stay in my mind until next winter.
The sauce is rich, the portobellos are meaty, the pearl onions are slightly crunchy and the sour cream makes it just a bit creamy. This is the kind of dish you want to eat when its snowing out and you have a fire roaring. It would be perfect for after a long day of skiing.
This dish makes me happy to be a vegetarian. Who knows what recipe I could find on my 18th year of being a veggie?! Perhaps I can solve the mystery of vegetarian chicken noodle soup?! But for now I am content with my new favorite winter meal. I don’t think I will be yearning for my mom’s pot roast any more.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices (you can use cremini instead, as well)
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups vegetable broth (beef broth is traditional but vegetable to make it vegetarian; it works with either)
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, for serving
Sour cream and chopped chives or parsley, for garnish (optional)
Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. Remove them from pan. [This is an important step, to really make the mushrooms meaty it is best to take them off the heat before they release their liquid. This way they will have more substance. It is hard to time correctly and you need to keep your eye on this to make sure you don’t over cook the mushrooms]
Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and a several grinds of black pepper into the pan and cook for 10, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.
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. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. Add the pearl onions and simmer for five minutes more.
Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew. [I melted the butter and then mixed in the flour to make it a bit easier] Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste.
To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles, dollop with sour cream (optional) and sprinkle with chives or parsley.