In the autumn you can find mushrooms sprouting wild in the woods, brimming in baskets at your local farmers market, and tucked into little boxes at your local grocery store. And it's then, when the weather takes a chill, that you know it's time to make Mushroom Stew.
Bacon, red wine, and good bone broth give this Mushroom Stew and deeply rich, savory flavor that's lightened by the addition of fresh, vibrant green herbs.
What is it?
A stew is a traditional dish made by slowly cooking meat and vegetables until soft and tender. Stews also include a liquid, such as broth or wine as well as a thickening agent, such as flour, which gives the dish a velvety texture.
For mushroom stew, mushrooms naturally form the vegetable component of the dish while beef or bison make up the meat component. Together, they slowly simmer with aromatics, broth, and wine to make a robust, hearty stew that makes an excellent dinner on a cold winter night - especially when you serve it with a slice of crusty bread.
What's in it?
Stews typically contain five components including meat, vegetables, aromatics, liquid, and a thickener. With these five components covered, you can make just about any stew you like. In addition to these primary ingredients, you'll also add bacon which gives the stew a delicate salty-smoky flavor, tomato paste, olive oil, and fresh herbs.
- Grass-fed bison or beef has a savory quality that's a natural match for mushrooms. It's also rich in protein, and a good source of B vitamins, selenium, iron, and zinc (1), and it also has a more favorable ratio of healthy fats than grain-fed beef (2).
- Mushrooms form the foundation of this stew. And a using a variety of mushrooms makes it even better. Mushrooms contain valuable antioxidants, microelements, and other nutrients that fight disease and support general health and well-being (3). That's true of all mushrooms, whether wild, domestic, or medicinal.
- Aromatics include onion and garlic, which are key additions to just about any stew. When cook onions and garlic, their flavor turns both sweet and savory, and it's that combination that gives depth to mushroom (and other) stew recipes.
- Bone broth and wine make up the liquid portion of the stew. Bone broth is rich in gelatin which not only increases the protein content of the stew, but also acts as a thickener itself and contributes a silky quality to the stew's gravy. Red wine gives the stew a much-needed punch of a acidty that helps to counterbalance the rich, savory notes of mushrooms and red meat.
- Herbs include bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and marjoram. The vibrant, bright flavor of these herbs lift up the natural heaviness of stew, and lend a fresh component to the recipe.
Choosing Mushrooms for Stew
Mushroom stew offers a deeply savory flavor owing to its inclusion of slow-simmered bison (or beef), bone broth, mushrooms, and the slightest touch of tomato paste. To amplify the stew's natural richness, choose a wide variety of mushrooms.
Each variety of mushrooms offers a slightly different flavor - whether you use domestic mushrooms like the white button or wild mushrooms such as oyster mushrooms, morels, or boletes.
If you're using domestic mushrooms, shoot for white button, cremini, and shiitake. Portabella mushrooms also work well since they have a pleasant meaty texture.
And if you're using wild mushrooms, use whichever delicious edible mushrooms you can find. Chanterelles give the stew a subtle, floral, and citrusy note. Alternatively, porcini mushrooms can give the stew a meaty quality and a toothsome bite. Just as a variety makes a better stew, variety also makes a better mushroom butter, pâte, and Wild Mushroom Risotto, too.
The Goodness of Mushrooms
Mushrooms give this stew a rich flavor and deeply satiating quality. And they're also good for you, too. Mushrooms are naturally rich in antioxidants, and they're also an excellent source of beta-glucans as well as some B vitamins like pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and riboflavin.
Further, many mushrooms help support blood sugar regulation (4) while also supporting your immune system (5). And when you pair them with bone broth in this mushroom stew recipe, it's a natural fit for supporting the immune system during the cold months.
Tips for Making the Stew
This mushroom stew recipe is an easy one-pot meal. Just like similar recipes, making the stew itself is fairly straightforward and first involves cooking your aromatics in hot fat (in this recipe, we recommend bacon fat, but olive oil works well, too) before adding the meat, mushrooms, and eventually the broth and wine. You'll finish it all off with chopped fresh herbs whose liveliness offers a counterbalance to the deep, savory notes of the stew.
- Choose a variety of mushrooms. Every mushroom variety offers a slightly different flavor - some mild, some robust, some floral and some meaty. Use a variety of mushrooms for the deepest, richest flavor. Wild mushrooms work well as does a variety of domestic mushrooms.
- Toss the stew meat with flour and seasonings first. Stews' rich, satiating broth comes from thickening the stew with a combination of flour and fat. You can make a roux, but tossing the meat with flour first is faster, easier and results in the smoothest texture.
- Scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. After you crisp the bacon, sauté the onions and brown the meat, browned bits will adhere to the bottom of the pan. When you add the liquids, scrape up those bits (also called the fond) to add flavor to your stew.
- Pay attention to your herbs. Woody herbs, like rosemary and thyme, and dried herbs release flavor with time and heat, so simmer them in the stew. Leafy herbs like parsley and marjoram are best added at the end of cooking, just before you serve the stew.
What to serve with mushroom stew
This stew is deliciously hearty and richly satisfying. It has a savory flavor spiked with fresh herbs. Partnering it with a starchy component to sop up all the delicious gravy is a must, and a lighter side dish works well to counterbalance the stew's natural heaviness.
Serve the stew over a mash of root vegetables, potatoes, or even over puréed white beans.
Serve it with a crusty slice of toasted sourdough bread which is perfect for sopping up any sauce leftover in the bowl.
A simple salad is a nice partner to the stew, too. Radicchio salad is a great accompaniment since radicchio is also a wintertime vegetable. But a simple salad dressed with a maple mustard vinaigrette works well, too.
Above all else, slowly simmered soup and stew recipes are flexible. Unlike baking, in which the slightest variation of ingredients, time, or temperature can dramatically change results, soups and stews are adjustable. You can toss in a few extra vegetables for flavor, substitute one liquid for the next, and give yourself plenty of wiggle room on timing.
And once you get the hang of making this recipe for Mushroom Stew, you can transform it into something distinctly your own. Add different herbs, toss in some celery, and add more meat (or less) - whatever you happen to like. Here are some of our favorite variations.
Add celery and carrots. Toss in diced celery and hunks of carrots with the onions to give the stew a brighter, sweeter flavor and a boost of nutrients.
Substitute beef or lamb in place of bison. Grass-fed beef pairs extraordinarily well with mushrooms.
Skip the wine, and add a little extra broth and another spoonful of tomato paste instead.
Skip the tomato paste and add miso paste instead, because miso's savory, salty flavor blends beautifully with mushrooms.
Add some crushed red pepper flakes for a little bit of heat. You can also add additional minced garlic, and substitute diced tomatoes for some of the broth. Swap in chopped fresh basil for the marjoram, too.
Add some pearled barley and cut down on the all-purpose flour. Barley, red meat, and mushrooms are made for each other.
For a vegetarian mushroom stew, take a hint from classic vegetable stews, and swap vegetable stock for the bone broth. Add an additional pound of mushrooms, preferably a meaty variety such as portabella, for the beef or bison. Since mushrooms have a higher water content than meat, you may need to increase the amount of flour you add as well.
Ladle any leftover mushroom stew into an airtight container, and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, pour the stew into a saucepan and warm it gently over medium-low heat until it reaches at least 165 F.
Yes! The stew freezes well. Ladle any leftover stew into an airtight container, allowing at least 1 inch of headspace. Freeze for up to 6 months and defrost in the fridge overnight.
Yes. Try replacing the all-purpose einkorn flour with rice flour or a gluten-free all-purpose flour; however, you may need to adjust the amount.
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- Grass-fed bison, Nutritiondata.(2022)
- Davis, Hannah et al. “Nutritional Benefits from Fatty Acids in Organic and Grass-Fed Beef.” Foods (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 11,5 646. 23 Feb. 2022
- Muszyńska, Bożena et al. “Anti-inflammatory properties of edible mushrooms: A review.” Food chemistry vol. 243 (2018): 373-381.
- Khatun, K., et al. (2007) Oyster mushroom reduced blood glucose and cholesterol in diabetic subjects. Mymensingh Medical Journal.
- Xiaoshuang Dai, J., et al. (2015) Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults, Journal of the American College of Nutrition.