Quarantine is an interesting time to cook. We are stuck at home, but have unusual combinations of ingredients based on supermarket availability. Case in point. I’ve been eating oyster and enoki mushrooms this week because those were the only mushrooms available on my last grocery run. Instead of feeling frustrated by not being able to to perfectly replicate recipes, this is a great time to let go and experiment with substitutions.
For the last several months, I’ve been wanting to try Jamie Oliver’s mushroom stroganoff. When I became a vegetarian over 20 years ago, I would make Anna Thomas’ mushroom stroganoff in the Vegetarian Epicure. While delicious, it’s quite rich. I was excited about this new method which has a few pickly items like capers so you don’t have to rely on sour cream for 100% of the flavor. It’s lighter, vibrant, and fresh.
Jamie Oliver’s cooking video for mushroom stroganoff can be found here. It’s cute to watch.
I’ve cooked this recipe twice so far during quarantine: once using 2 varieties of oyster mushrooms, and another time using cremini mushrooms. The thin oyster mushrooms shrunk down and got extra skinny after simmering, but they still had great flavor. The creminis were thicker and meatier.
If you need a little stimulation in your quarantine routine, flaming the whiskey at the end of the recipe is a small thrill.
Aside from experimenting with unusual mushroom shapes, we had to make some other quarantine substitutions. The recipe calls for silverskin pickled onions. We had Japanese pickled scallions. It called for cornichons and we used Polish dill pickles. The recipe calls for creme fraiche, but I had Greek yogurt. We use a yellow onion instead of a red one. We omitted the parsley so our dish was less colorful than the original, but it was still delicious and satisfying. All of these minor substitutions worked.
The results were delicious and I want to use this recipe again. The pickly items like capers and sliced pickled scallions added something special. Oyster mushrooms are already slim when raw, so when cooked, they shrink down even slimmer, almost the same size as the sliced onions. In the future we hope to try it with more mushroom shapes, but this is still delicious! Be grateful for what you have. Also be grateful for beautiful spring weather for social-distance-walks.
Recipe for Jamie Oliver’s Mushroom Stroganoff
14 oz mixed mushrooms
1 red onion (I used a yellow onion)
2 cloves of garlic
4 silverskin pickled onions (I used Japanese pickled scallions)
2 cornichons (I used Polish pickles)
4 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley (I had to omit)
1 tablespoon baby capers
3 tablespoons whisky
3 oz half-fat creme fraiche or sour creme (I used Greek yogurt)
Original version from the cookbook:
Get all the prep done before you start cooking: trip the mushroom, tearing up any larger ones and leaving any smaller ones whole, peel and finely slice the red onion and garlic, and finely slice the pickled onions and cornichons. Pick and roughly chop the parsley leaves, finely chopping the stalks.
Place a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat, throw in the mushrooms and red onions, shake into one layer, then dry-fry for 5 minutes (this will bring out the nutty flavor), stirring regularly. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon of oil, then add the garlic, pickled onions, cornichons, parsley stalks, and capers. After 3 minutes, pour in the whisky, tilt the pan to carefully flame, or light with a long match (watch your eyebrows!), and, once the flames subside, add 1/4 of a teaspoon of paprika, the creme fraiche and parsley, then toss together. Loosen with a splash of boiling water to a saucy consistency, and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.
Divide between plates, sprinkle over a little paprika, and serve with fluffy rice.