December 02, 2010

Spicy Mushroom Gumbo: Heat Up the Holidays

This is a two-part post.

Part one involves me singing (or writing) the praises of The Black Sheep, a restaurant in the middle of the VCU campus in downtown Richmond. I ate there last week with my friend C and pretty much fell in love, even if my lack of zip-up black hoodie and Converse high tops made me stand out a bit among the mostly unwashed hipster clientele.

The Black Sheep serves phenomenal comfort food with a bit of a retro feel (pimento cheese, anyone?), and features one of those menus that renders everyone at the table silent for about ten minutes while they try to choose the best possible combination of the very tempting offerings.

Although C and I ordered about five dishes between the two of us (what? it's my duty to you to be knowledgeable about as much of a given menu as possible, right?), the standout for me was the Mixed Mushroom Gumbo with Greens. Only after devouring my cup of it did I realized that the soup was vegan, and I'm pleased to report that this was the type of hearty, flavorful dish that gives vegan food a good name.

Part two involves me attempting my own version of the mushroom gumbo, because I couldn't stop thinking about it once I got home.

Spicy Mushroom Gumbo

Yes, I know this picture is out of focus. It's the best one I could take, for some reason.
  • 1 package Baby Bella* mushrooms, washed and diced
  • 1 package Shiitake mushrooms, washed and diced
  • 2 carrots, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mushroom stock
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 loosely-packed cups fresh spinach, washed and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (I used a teaspoon)
  • Paprika to taste (I used half a teaspoon)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
1. Since the roux will need considerable attention, make life easier by prepping all of your ingredients first. While you're doing this, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.

2. When the oil is hot, whisk in the flour, cayenne, and paprika, taking care to whisk until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the heat to medium-low, whisking often and taking care not to let the mixture burn.
3. After about ten minutes or when the mixture has become a caramel-brown color, stir in the garlic and tomato paste. The mixture will thicken very quickly. Add red wine to thin it out.

4. Stir in the carrots and mushrooms, coating them evenly in the tomato-garlic-roux mixture. Add the mushroom and chicken stocks and any salt and pepper, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes, or until mushrooms and carrots are tender.
5. Just before serving, stir in the spinach. It'll seem like a lot, but will wilt down to almost nothing in a matter of seconds. If the soup is too thick, add a bit of water to thin it out. Serve over brown rice, quinoa, couscous, etc. 

* Really, any type of mushrooms will do in this soup. I chose these two varieties for their richness of flavor, but feel free to substitute simple button mushrooms, crimini mushrooms, oyster get the idea.

Ignoring the fact that mushrooms and spinach are absolute non-negotiables to some (especially when cooked), I deem this Spicy Mushroom Gumbo a success. The textures are different, for sure, but the heat and heartiness of this soup make it a perfect winter dish, especially if you're looking to cut down on your meat intake and still be satisfied at dinnertime.

1 comment:

  1. I love Black Sheep! They were featured on Man vs. Food awhile back.