I call this ‘stroganoff’ with a little caution: you have to be careful using a classic name for a dish and people can get very upset (including me sometimes!) if cooks stray too far from the traditional. But of course ‘stroganoff’ is traditionally a beef dish and thus turning it into a vegetarian one is serious straying before you start cooking. Yet many people have gone there before me, and after looking at a few ‘mushroom stroganoffs’ online and in my books, I came up with this. And very delicious it was – whatever one calls it!
Beef Stroganoff is a Russian dish that originated in the mid 19th century. To me it conjures up memories of eating this in restaurants in the 1970s and 80s when head waiters would wheel out a trolley containing small dishes with all the prepared ingredients and cook it right before you at your table. The dramatic highlight – the same could be said of Crêpes Suzette – was the flaming of the brandy near the end, when bright flames shot up by your side and everyone else in the restaurant turned round to enjoy the spectacle.
Well I gave the flaming a miss in my kitchen this evening. Though Jamie Oliver in a YouTube video of his version of Mushroom Stroganoff does include this bit of theatre (along with all the Health & Safety stuff). I did to quite an extent follow his version, including beginning the cooking of the mushrooms in a dry pan to ‘bring out the nutty flavour’ – something my son, a great cook, is always recommending I do. I thought I’d give Jamie’s cornichons and capers a miss too, and the whisky, and opted for some white wine instead.
The meal came about because of leftovers. Living on my own, and mainly cooking for just myself – especially during these Covid restricted times when I can’t meet friends in restaurants or invite them to my home – one of the slight irritants is that many ingredients come packaged for more than a single portion. Thus I find I have half packets of mushrooms or too many courgettes, etc. More and more often I shop at my local Whole Foods where I can buy one single courgette, put a handful of mushrooms into a paper bag. But I still have a Waitrose weekly delivery of my basic food needs – hence this week adding in a packet of mushrooms for something I planned to cook and finding myself with half a pack to use up. I love mushrooms and there are lots of fantastic dishes you can make with them: risotto, my Polenta alla Cacciatora, pasta sauces, pancakes and omelettes. But I fancied a change. And I also had some double cream to use up (a leftover from making a chocolate ganache icing for my grandson Freddie’s 6th birthday cake yesterday) …
Mushrooms + cream immediately make me think ‘stroganoff’ – and so it was made.
Having said all that about using up the leftover mushrooms, I added to them by buying some girolles (sometimes called chanterelles) in Whole Foods. Jamie had raved about them when I watched his video and I liked the idea of a mix – even if it was just a mix of two. The cream in stroganoff is usually ‘soured cream’ or ‘cream fraiche’ but this was about using up my double cream. The recipe below is just a guide – go with what you have too or would prefer. If I was buying ingredients specially for this I’d probably buy the creme fraiche, but actually the double cream was delicious.
I served it with rice, but only had risotto or brown basmati to hand – so brown basmati it was, though ‘choice’ would have been long grain. Beef Stroganoff is traditionally served with noodles or rice.
Slices of mushrooms rather than slices of beef may sound like a poor alternative but actually mushrooms are a good source of protein so excellent for vegetarians. And they do have a slightly ‘meaty’ texture, I think, with a lovely deep flavour. I like meat and eat it regularly, as well as fish, but at least two or three nights a week I’ll eat a vegetarian meal and mushrooms are one of my go-to ingredients. The recipe is for one (me!) but it’s easily bulked up to feed more.
Mushroom Stroganoff – Serves One
- about 180g mixed mushrooms (chestnut, girolles – whatever you like)
- 1-2 shallots, finely sliced
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped
- extra virgin olive oil
- good splash of white wine
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- a good dollop or two of double cream or creme fraiche
Clean the mushrooms if necessary – with a soft brush it you have one; you can buy special mushroom brushes. If you have to wash them, dry them as well as you can. Sometimes I just wipe them clean with damp kitchen towel. Mushrooms contain a lot of water so you don’t want extra. Slice thickly.
Put the mushrooms into a dry pan and fry over a low-medium heat, stirring frequently. You will gradually see quite a lot of water coming out of them.
When they’re obviously softening, add the shallots, garlic (you can slice or chop but I like to grate finely) and chopped parsley stems.
Stir well and allow it all to cook for just a minute or two, then drizzle in a good glug of olive oil and mix in. This will caramelise the mixture.
Sprinkle over the paprika.
Stir and cook for a minute or two then add some white wine – just enough to cover the bottom of the pan but not cover the mushroom mix. Cook until the wine has more or less evaporated and the mushroom mix has nicely softened and everything is cooked through.
Now add some cream. I’ve said a ‘dollop or two’ – I didn’t want mine too creamy – but look, taste and see what you prefer. Add some of the chopped parsley leaves but keep some back for garnish at the end.
Mix it all together and let it bubble very gently for a minute or two for the flavours to come together. Check the seasoning.
Serve with rice and a green salad on the side.
When I first put the mushrooms in the pan I thought there was so much I wouldn’t want it all – and that I was making myself more leftovers! But mushrooms – a bit like spinach – magically wilt down into a much smaller amount. This was a good-sized portion but not over greedy. It was really delicious. It felt quite special for a midweek supper. I may not have had the theatre of the flaming brandy but there was a little theatre in how special the supper was.