RE: Mushroom stew in Utica, New York
one pound each, pork and veal stew, in half inch cubes
one cup coarsely chopped onion
two cups coarsely chopped celery
two - three cups green bell pepper
four cloves of garlic chopped
at least two pounds of sliced brown mushrooms, porcinis are best. don't use the bland, anemic white ones. portos are ok, but can be chewy.
a drizzle and splash of good olive oil
two, three Tbsp basil, dried or one cup fresh chopped
two tsp oregano
a bay leaf or two
salt and black pepper
pinch of chili flakes (red pepper flakes)
two, soup can size, cans of plain canned tomato sauce
one can of water
In a heavy pot, brown meats very well in some oil. remove from pot. add a splash of oil, saute garlic for a minute, add onion and celery, stir fry until onions just begin to soften. add a splash of water, deglaze pot with celery and onion still in pot. add meats, herbs, spices, tomato sauce and half the water. bring to boil. add bell peppers to boiling pot, stir in. you'll notice a heavenly smokey aroma of the peppers almost immediately. this is good! return to boil and stir in mushrooms, reduce and simmer an hour or so, until meat is tender. add water if sauce become too thick.
the flavor improves overnight. so if you can resist, cool rapidly and refrigerate. serve the next day, covered sandwich style, over the cheapest, crustiest Italian bread you can find.
mushroom stew is peasant food at its finest. i believe it came about as an extender dish, in times when meat, or the money to buy meat was scarce. you are unlikely to find this dish outside of the Central New York region. along with tomato pie and pusties, it is distinctly UTICA, and almost everyone in the Utica area makes this, regardless of national origin. some people ladle it over spaghetti. some folks make it with Italian sausage. others use paste for a thicker sauce. I vary this recipe by adding diced carrots. they add a nice sweetness. i like a thinner sauce b/c it is readily aborbed by the bread. a thicker sauce will just sit on top of it. i love lots of basil, you may not. adjust to your taste. there are no hard rules to making mushroom stew, except that it contain pork, veal, mushrooms, and be red. ENJOY!