Mushroom stifado (στιφάδο με μανιτάρια) or mushroom stew is a hearty, handsomely delicious dish. Stewed in red wine, garlic and roasted tomatoes with cinnamon and cloves, these mushrooms are outstanding – there’s just no other way to put it!
Serve mushroom stifado over rice or pasta or, my favorite, on top of ladopsomo/fried bread for a meal to remember. The wonderful thing is, this simple recipe is one you can make any night of the week and is a go-to when you want to impress your guests.
Pearl onions are a key ingredients in this dish. These are small, white stew onions. If you can’t find fresh pearl onions, they do come frozen. The frozen variety are usually peeled already. An easy way to make quick work of peeling fresh onions – drop them into boiling water for 2-3 minutes and gently rub skins off with a dish towel.
I recommend using roasted tomatoes in this dish for the most flavor but you can use canned, whole tomatoes as well and a good table red wine is fine. The generous amounts of rosemary and oregano are so aromatic and perfect pairs to your mushrooms. Cinnamon and cloves might seem a bit out of place but you will be amazed at the depth of flavor they bring to the recipe – just remember to keep your cloves tied up in cheesecloth or a reusable tea bag so they don’t get lost in your stew and send someone to the dentist with a chipped tooth!
Browning the pearl onions and chopped garlic brings out their sweetness. Remember, you’re not looking for dark brown, just a light golden color. Stir the onions often to make sure they color on all sides. And be careful to make sure your garlic browns but doesn’t burn.
A trick to maximizing the already fantastic flavors in this recipe is to allow the mushrooms to first soak up the red wine before any of the other flavors. Doing this also allows you to deglaze the pan and pick up any little bits of browned onions and garlic as well as mushroom that may have stuck to the pan.
A tip to keep your mushrooms moist and meaty – brown the onions, garlic and mushrooms in just half the olive oil waiting to add the second half along with the other ingredients. This way your mushrooms will not end up greasy and soggy. This step make a huge difference in the finished dish.
Cook all the ingredients over low-med heat and stir frequently. I usually stir every 10 minutes or so to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Stirring also helps to give your overall dish more even flavoring. Just stir gently so you don’t bruise your mushrooms!
Mushroom stifado is delicious all on its own and with a side of crusty bread is a meal in itself. It’s also the perfect topping for pasta or rice and I love it heaped on top of ladopsomo/fried bread – never, never get tired of this meal!
- 2 cups pearl onions, peeled (1 pound) or 14-ounces frozen if you can’t find fresh
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided in half
- 1 1/2 – 2 lbs mushrooms (5-6 cups trimmed)
- 1/3 cup chopped garlic
- 1 1/4 cup red wine
- 2 cups crushed fresh or roasted tomatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 2 tbsp rosemary, chopped or crushed very fine
- 2 tbsp oregano
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp whole cloves (tie cloves in piece of cheesecloth or reusable tea bag – do not add them loose)
Clean and remove stems from mushrooms. Do not soak or wash mushrooms but lightly brush off any loose dirt with a damp cloth. Set aside.
Peel pearl onions, if using frozen they often come already peeled. For fresh onions, drop them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes and rub peels off with dishcloth.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil (half the total recipe amount) in pan and brown onions and garlic on low heat. Brown the pearl onions for 3-4 minutes before adding the garlic and cook for an addition 2-3 minutes.
Remove onions and garlic from pan, set aside.
Add cleaned mushrooms to the same pan. Do NOT add the remaining 1/4 cup of oil at this time. There will be enough left behind from the onions/garlic. Stir to coat mushrooms well and brown for 5 minutes on low-med heat.
Add wine to browned mushrooms and cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Scrape any bits of mushroom, onions and garlic from the bottom of the pan when you add the wine.
Add remaining olive oil, browned onions/garlic, tomatoes, herbs and spices. Stir to combine completely. Mushrooms should be just covered with liquids. If need be, add up to another 1/2 cup of liquid (1/4 wine, 1/4 cup water).
Cook over low-medium heat, uncovered, for 40 minutes until almost all of the liquid has been cooked off and absorbed. Stir gently every 10 minutes or so while cooking.
This recipe serves 4, can easily be doubled or tripled and can be spooned over rice or pasta and enjoyed alone with a piece of crusty bread. Garnish with sprig of fresh rosemary or oregano.