I recently attended the 28th Annual Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, PA. The town and festival were both a real treat. The town center is charming and quaint with several interesting restaurants and boutiques in the immediate vicinity of the main strip. Talula's Table is worth mentioning considering the notoriety the restaurant has achieved. As explained in this Saveur article, reservations for the restaurant have to be made a year in advance for the sole table of the night to enjoy their solitary prix fixe BYOB dinner. Kennett Square is known as the mushroom capital of the world because the surrounding region produces over a million mushrooms a week. If you ever drive through this area during mushroom season, as I have, your olfactory senses will be assaulted with one of the most unpleasant odors imaginable. For the sake of comparison, it's much worst than anything you might encounter on the New Jersey Turnpike. The odor is caused by the composting of mushrooms, which releases moisture and ammonia. This is a point of contention for many PA suburbanites in mushroom farming communities.
So, take a wild guess at the foods available at the Mushroom Festival. Mushroom Ice Cream. Check. Mushroom Soup. Check. Fried Mushrooms. Check. Mushroom Chili. Check. Grilled Mushrooms. Check. I even had a mushroom ice cream bar w/frozen slices of button mushrooms that was surprisingly good. It was truly a mushroom lover's dream. When I made mushroom bourguignon with portabello, cremini, and shiitake mushrooms, I was transformed back to the festival. It's the perfect rich, comforting dish to highlight mushrooms. The recipe below is adapted from Smitten Kitchen by way of The Taste Space.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter, softened
- 1 pound portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/4-in slices
- 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, cut into 1/4-in slices
- 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1/4-in slices
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 1/2 carrot, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup full-bodied red wine
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups vegetable broth (I prefer Rapunzel Vegetable Bouillon Cubes)
- 1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup pearl onions, washed and peeled
- Sour cream and chopped chives or parsley, for garnish
- Buttered eggs noodles, potatoes, or crusty bread, for serving
Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over high heat. Add all mushrooms to the pot and sear until they begin to darken, but not yet releasing any liquid--about three to four minutes. Remove them from pan and set aside.
Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the onion, carrots, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste into the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up to reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add the reserved mushrooms, with any juices that have collected, and bring to a boil. Reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until the mushrooms are fork tender. Add the pearl onions and simmer for an another five minutes.
Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste.
Serve the stew with buttered egg noodles, potatoes, or crusty bread. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with chives or parsley.