Vegetarians and carnivores alike find this dish satisfying. The addition of cacao at the end thickens and enriches the gravy. To vary it, you could add a few freshly roasted chestnuts. Although making the stock takes a little extra time, it is worth it for the flavour. You can prepare the whole dish, up to adding the cacao, in advance, and the reheat and finish off on the day of serving.
30g dried porcini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1kg mix of wild and cultivated mushrooms (use at least 4 of porcini, trompettes, chicken of the wood, chanterelles, shiitake, chestnut, field and tiny button mushrooms)
5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100ml glass vermouth, or dry white wine
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 large onions, cut into 2cm cubes
2 fresh bay leaves
10g 100% cacao, grated. Suggestion, Venezuelan Las Trincheras 100% cacao
First make the stock. Cut the onions into 1cm slices. Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the onions and salt and fry over a moderate heat until they are very brown and caramelized. Take care not to burn them as this will make the stock bitter.
Add all the remaining stock ingredients plus 1 litre cold water and bring it to the boil. Lower the heat and leave to simmer for about 1 hour. Strain into a clean pan, return to a gentle boil and continue cooking until reduced to about 300ml liquid. Set aside.
Now prepare the stew. Stir the dried porcini mushrooms into the hot stock and set aside. Pick over and clean the wild mushrooms. Only resort to washing those that you cannot clean with a brush or cloth, such as the trompettes, which often grow in sandy soil. Leave the smaller mushrooms whole and cut the larger ones either in half or into fat chunks, depending on shape and size.
Divide the prepared mushrooms into three batches. Melt about a third of the butter in a large frying pan and cook one batch of mushrooms over a medium heat until starting to soften.
Add a little of the garlic with some salt and pepper to taste and a splash of the vermouth or wine and continue to cook, stirring, for another minute. Tip into a bowl and set aside while you cook the remaining batches of mushrooms in the same way.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan or flameproof casserole, add the onion cubes and fry until they are nutty brown. Pour in the prepared stock, then add the cooked wild mushrooms, the bay leaves and the cacao. Bring to the boil and cook gently over a low heat for 5-7 minutes (don’t overcook or you will lose the individual flavours of the mushrooms).
Adjust the seasoning to taste with the salt, pepper and a little soy sauce. Serve garnished with a sprinkle of chopped parsley, accompanied by mashed potatoes, rice or with chocolate tagliatelle pasta.
This stew also makes a great pie filling. To use in this way, allow the stew to cook completely, then place in a large pie dish or ovenproof casserole.
Preheat the oven to 200°C and roll out 500g puff pastry, just wider than the rim of the pie dish. Wet the rim with a little water, then press the pastry strip down onto it. Brush the strip with a little more water, then lay the sheet of rolled-out pastry on top. Press down firmly along the edges to seal, then trim off any excess.
Cut a few slits in the pastry topping and glaze by brushing with beaten egg. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and puffed up. Serve immediately.