Wild mushroom picking in Poland is as traditional and family oriented as sauce making for Italians. Growing up in Poland I remember many vast forests surrounding my home town and my grandparents village where we frequently visited. Learning to live off the land and search for the hidden earthy treasures of the forest with my family was one of the things I remember and still miss.
I moved away to Canada with my family when I was very young , we don’t see the varieties of mushrooms here that are still growing in Poland. Back home my family and my husband’s family still honour the tradition of mushroom picking and mushroom drying today. My husband’s family in Poland still sends us jars and jars of dried mushrooms. Having a last name that means a certain variety of mushroom (call me Portobello, but that’s not it), we have some deep love of wild mushrooms. So today I decided to make a very traditional (organic) stewing beef with wild mushroom gravy.
Recipe’s very simple and you don’t need exact measurements. Here are the ingredients I used.
1/2 cooking onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5lb of organic stewing beef
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2-3 cups gluten-free beef broth
3/4 cup of dried wild mushrooms (you can use porcini or other Italian ones)
1 tsp corn starch (for thickening)
1 tbsp light sour cream (some brands may have gluten please check)
3 Yukon gold potatoes
fresh chopped dill as garnish
As other dried mushrooms you need to pre-soak them for at least 20 minutes before cooking with them. In a medium saucepan sautée onion and garlic for about 2 minutes, add dried oregano and thyme, add the stewing beef and sautée for about 3 minutes more. Then add beef broth enough to cover the beef entirely. Then add the dried mushrooms, reduce to a medium-low heat and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Finish the sauce with a bit of corn starch diluted in water as a thickener, and a tablespoon of sour cream.
My favourite side dishes are mashed potatoes and pickle (though I ran out of pickles today, darn). Also very traditional Polish sides. The meat falls apart in your mouth and the sauce is wonderfully absorbed by the potatoes making them smooth and rich with earthy mushroom flavour. Delicious to the last bite.
I do miss Poland sometimes, Europe for that matter. It’s why we travel to Europe almost every year. The connection with nature and history there seems to be stronger for me and my husband. Can’t explain it but lately I’ve been feeling nostalgic and hence the traditional childhood Polish dishes. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.