Mushroom, Butternut Squash and Chestnut Stew
This warming stew combines rich, earthy winter mushrooms with the sweetness of squash and the nuttiness of chestnuts. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and some crusty bread.
- 250g firm winter mushrooms such as hedgehog fungus or blewits
- 1 small butternut squash (about 1 kg)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 200g prepared sweet chestnuts*
- Mushroom or vegetable stock
- 2 bay leaves
- Small bunch fresh thyme
- 150ml red wine
- About 850ml vegetable stock
- Extra virgin olive oil and lemon wedges, to serve
- Clean and trim the mushrooms. Chop the larger mushrooms into chunky pieces, but leave the smaller mushrooms whole. Peel the squash, remove the seeds and chop it into chestnut-sized chunks and only chop the bigger mushrooms leaving the rest whole.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan and add the onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves and a palmful of picked thyme leaves. Add a pinch of salt and cook gently until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Add the garlic and mushrooms to the pan, toss to coat with the oil, and cook gently for a few minutes. Add the chestnuts and chunks of squash, season well and continue to cook gently, stirring from time to time, until the mushrooms have softened.
- Stir in the red wine and let it bubble up, then add enough stock to just cover everything. Bring to the boil, cover then allow to simmer for 45 minutes, until the squash is tender.Let the stew cool slightly, then serve sprinkled with thyme and drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
* To prepare sweet chestnuts, start with roughly double the weight of peeled chestnuts you need. Using a strong, sharp knife, cut a slash in the skins of the nuts right around their middles. Put the slashed chestnuts in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer until the skins start to split. Turn the heat under the pan to low, to keep the nuts hot as you work. With a slotted spoon, lift out one chestnut at a time and, using a tea towel or rubber gloves to protect your hands from the heat, quickly peel off the skin. With any luck, the inner, fibrous husk will come away with the outer shell, but if any of it remains on the chestnut you should be able to scrape it off with the back of a knife. If not, return the chestnut to the pan for a few minutes and try again. Discard any chestnuts that are mouldy or rotten. When all the nuts are peeled, return them to the rinsed-out pan and cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until tender to the point of a knife.
Recipe by Wild Food UK; development and photos by Otherwise