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Eric Akis: Mushrooms shine in decadent meat-free stroganoff

Serve mushroom stroganoff on egg noodles, mashed potatoes or rice pilaf, topped with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped parsley.
Five types of mushrooms are cooked up this hearty, beef-free, style of stroganoff. Eric Akis

If you take the beef out of a dish that traditionally has it, you’ll have to bolster it in other ways to replace that umami-rich ingredient. In today’s beef-free version of stroganoff, a mix of mushrooms and piquant seasonings filled that void quite tastily.

To make it, the sliced, mild tasting, flavour absorbing, white button mushrooms I normally use in stroganoff were sautéed with four other types of fungi.

They included brown — also called cremini — mushrooms, which have a deep, earthy flavour and dense texture, and shiitake mushrooms, which have a meaty flavour, with hints of wood and smoke. I also used a portobello mushroom in the recipe, a large, gills-wide-open, fully mature brown mushroom that also has a meaty flavour. The other mushrooms added were chanterelles; wild, trumpet-shaped mushrooms with a slightly chewy texture and a delicate, but complex flavour with hints of fruit and pepper.

That mix of mushrooms, along with the onions I cooked with them with, definitely had enough taste and texture to stand in for the strips of beef normally used in stroganoff. And that became truer when they were simmered in a thickened stock mixture flavoured with garlic, wine, thyme, smoked paprika, spicy Dijon mustard and a big splash of Worcestershire sauce.

When the mushrooms for the recipe are all cut, you should have about five cups of them, which will look like a lot and explains why you’ll need a wide skillet to cook them in. But when they do start to cook, and the moisture in them seeps out and evaporates, they’ll substantially shrink in size.

You can serve the mushroom stroganoff on egg noodles, mashed potatoes or rice pilaf, topped with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped parsley. If you don’t eat dairy or can’t eat the anchovies added to popular brands of Worcestershire sauce, my recipe provide suggestions of what to replace them with.

Mushroom Stroganoff

This beef-free version of the classic dish combines five different mushrooms in a flavourful sauce. Serve the mushroom stroganoff on egg noodles, mashed potatoes or rice pilaf.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: About 20 minutes

Makes: four servings

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp butter (see Eric’s options)

1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced

6 medium to large white mushrooms, sliced

6 medium to large brown mushrooms, cut lengthwise, into wedges

1 medium portobello mushroom, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

6 large shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced

10 medium chanterelle mushrooms, lower stems trimmed, and then coarsely chopped (see Eric’s options)

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/3 cup white wine

1 cup vegetable or chicken stock, plus more, if needed

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (see Eric’s options)

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• sour cream, to taste (see Eric’s options)

• chopped fresh parsley, to taste

Place oil and butter in a very large skillet (mine was 12-inches wide) and set over medium-high heat. When butter is melted, add onions and mushrooms and cook until tender and the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated, about six to seven minutes. Mix in the garlic, flour, thyme and paprika and cook two minutes more.

Slowly mix in the wine. Cook until the mixture thickens, and then slowly mix in the stock. Now mix in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer. Simmer a few minutes, until a thickened sauce forms around the mushrooms. Add a bit more stock to the pan if you’d like that sauce to be a bit thinner.

Taste and season the stroganoff with salt and pepper and it’s ready to dish up. Top each serving of stroganoff with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped parsley.

Eric’s options: If you can’t have dairy, replace the butter with one more tablespoon of olive oil, and the sour cream with yogurt-like, plain cultured coconut milk. If can’t find or don’t wish to use chanterelle mushrooms, replace them with oyster mushrooms, which are sold at most grocery stores.

Popular brands of Worcestershire sauce contain anchovies. If they can’t be part of you’re diet, look for vegan types of Worcestershire sauce sold at health foods stores and some specialty food stores. Or replace it with a splash of soy sauce or tamari sauce.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.