CNYEats A Taste of Utica Mushroom Stews

by Joanne on November 22, 2009

Did you notice the title of this post indicates “Stews” as in plural?  That is because in our book,

DSC_0355 there are a total of seven (7) Mushroom Stew recipes.  All of them are listed here so take your pick.  There is one meatless version and six versions that contain meat.  All of which look delicious.  The two stews I made were rich, warm, thick and filling.  The mushroom’s woody flavors were mild but detectable.  I did add hot peppers because I remember way back when, after experiencing my very first taste of Utica’s Mushroom Stew, my mouth was on fire and I LOVED it.  How about you?  Are you ready?  Let’s make Mushroom Stew!

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Meatless Versions of Mushroom Stew *I made a version of this recipe for my Vegetarian preference. I note the adjustments I made in red.

1. Page 25. Posted by Tony Leone:  Mushroom Stew with Punch-Fungi *[Joanne] Amounts are not specified in recipe so I have made some assumptions.  Tony says…”A lot of people are vegetarians like me so I have to be creative in preparing meals daily.  I came up with a real winner some time ago.  It’s simple to prepare and won’t flatten your wallet”.

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  • (2) 15 oz Can butter beans
  • Olive oil – enough to cover bottom of a sauté pan
  • Mixed mushrooms: I used 4 oz Crimini, 4 oz Button, 3 oz Portobello (I added a large can of mushrooms – see other recipe below).
  • 2 cloves garlic  : I used 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced – I rough chopped the pepper
  • 1 cubanelle pepper, chopped
  • 1 stalk chopped celery
  • 2 hot cherry peppers
  • 1 28 oz Can Plum Tomatoes: squeeze to crush when adding to pot
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • about 12 grinds of fresh pepper.
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Lace the pan with olive oil and heat on medium heat.  I sautéed the the onions, peppers, celery first(about 8 minutes over medium – high heat), then added the garlic and mushrooms.  Add the mushrooms, garlic, onions, and peppers.  Sauté until brown – about 8 – 10 minutes. I added my tomatoes, sauce, paste, salt and pepper and brought to a bowl. Reduced to a simmer then added the beans. Add can of butter beans on the mixture. Stir until blended. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes…”until the aroma gets to ‘ya.”  Serve with real Italian hard crust water bread. Enjoy!

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Meat Versions

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2. Page 27.  Posted by Joe Mezz.  “I make it in a crock pot, real easy.”  [Joanne]There were no defined quantities for the ingredients, so, again, I added my own estimations.  

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  • 1 large can Hunts Tomato Sauce or/and Crushed/Peeled Tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 10 – 12 oz fresh mushrooms (Joe uses a couple of different kinds)
  • 1 lb cut up pork  (Joe uses the thin stir fry cut)
  • 2 sweet bell peppers
  • 1 (onion chopped) onions
  • salt – to taste

Place all that in the crock pot for a few hours.  Joe says…”I found that if you serve it reheated, the next day it tastes even better.”   Serve as a stew with fresh bread, or serve over pasta.

3.  Page 31. Posted by Carol M.  Carols says…”Following is the recipe for mushroom stew that was given to me by Wysocki’s restaurant on Columbia St. I cut it down as Stella Wysocki made a batch for an army.”

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  • 2 large cans tomatoes (squish them)
  • 2 small cans tomato paste
  • 2 large cans tomato puree
  • 4 large cans mushrooms (with juice) – I mixed fresh and a large can of mushrooms in my version(s).
  • 2 cans of carrots (Use fresh ones- preferred)
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • Garlic powder – to taste (about 1 tsp.)
  • 1 lb cooked pork – diced

Using a large stewing pot over medium heat, add the tomatoes, paste, puree, mushrooms and carrots.  Once the surface breaks with a bubble, add diced onions and peppers.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and add garlic powder.  Add diced pork.  Simmer until thick and carrots are done.  Serve alone or over bread.  This will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes.

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4.  Page 32.  Posted by Kathy Fiozzo.  “Mushroom stew is a staple at every Church Festival in Utica.  I remember my grandmother giving me five dollars to go to the Blessed Sacrament Festival and buy some for her when I was a little girl.  This is very close to the mushroom stew they serve at Joey’s on Mohawk Street in East Utica, although the recipe is my mom’s.”

  • 3 lbs loose Italian hot sausage
  • 3 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 3 red bell peppers, diced
  • 3 TBS minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 large pkgs. sliced button mushrooms
  • 3 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp black pepper

In a large stock pot, fry the onions, peppers and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are clear.  Add the sausage about 1 pound at a time and cook it through.  Add both packages of mushrooms and the 3 cans of tomatoes.  Finally, add the salt, pepper, parsley.  Stir and simmer uncovered on low for 3 hours.  Serve over rigatoni or ziti, with Pecorino Romano cheese, or alone with a nice loaf of bread.  Incidentally, this freezes well.

5.  Page 32.  Posted by Paul Mangano

  • 2 lbs lamb from the shoulder or leg, cut into 2 inch square pieces, trimmed of fat *You can use veal or pork instead.
  • 1 1/4 lb crimini or portobello mushrooms, cleaned and cut into large pieces
  • 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted, strain and save liquid
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Put the lamb into an oven  proof casserole with the soaking liquid from dried porcini mushrooms.  Add the mushrooms, parsley and garlic.  Drizzle all with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and red pepper.  Mix well.  Cover and place in hot oven and let roast for about 1 1/4 hours stirring well every 15 minutes or so.  Serve hot with plenty of crusty bread.

6.  Page 33. Posted by John Cardamone and called “Mushroom Stew by Dorothy Cardamone”I basically followed this recipe for the meat version of my mushroom stew. 

  • 1 lb beef chuck, cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, cut up – I left the casing on and cut it up into about 1 1/2” long chunks.
  • 1 lb veal, cut into 1” cubes

Brown meats in a large pot.  Once meat is browned, add the following:

  • 1 large can (28 oz) Plum Tomatoes  (squeeze to squish when adding)
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste – I used 9 oz tomato paste – 3 oz left over from meatless version.
  • 2 cans Hunts tomato sauce (14 oz cans- assuming) – I used 1  14 oz can.
  • 1 lb mushrooms, cut up – I used 8 oz Button Mushrooms, 6 oz Crimini, 4 medium Portobello – all sliced.
  • 3 lb green peppers, cut into pieces but not chopped / diced :I used 1 green pepper and 3 cubanelles.
  • 4 small yellow onions, cut into pieces but not chopped /diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 hot peppers, diced (optional)  – Make sure to take out the seeded core of the red peppers unless you like them REALLY hot.  Also, wear a glove when handling the pepper and wash your knife and cutting board afterwards.
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  • I added 2 cups water.

Cook stew slowly for 5-6 hours (or 1 – 2 hours if you are like John).  Add 1/4 cup or more water periodically if it gets too thick.  1/2 hour before serving, cook the following:  1 lb medium shell pasta- as indicated on the box.  Serve in bowls.  Mushroom stew over cooked pasta shells.

John Cardamone’s Variation:  “Mushroomless Stew” – If you don’t like mushrooms, leave them out.     [Joanne] HEY JOHN!  Don’t you realize this is a MUSHROOM STEW BLOG?!!

7.  Page 35.  Posted by Linda Pete.  “Growing up in East Utica in the 40’s & 50’s 99% of the population was Italian.   I was taught this recipe by one of the greatest cooks I have ever known and my cousin’s mother-in-law.  The technique is more important than the ingredients”.

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  • 1 1/2 lbs pork butt – trimmed and cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 12/ lbs beef chuck (can substitute venison)-trimmed and cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 small head of celery – leaves removed or celery heart cut into 2” pieces.
  • 4 large Italian frying peppers, cut into chunks – these are the pale green CUBANELLES – do not use green bell peppers.
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs whole mushrooms.
  • salt to taste
  • 1 TBS dried basil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 oz can tomato paste – good quality

In a large stockpot, add the pork and beef.  Add the celery, frying peppers, and mushrooms.  Sprinkle generously with salt and add the basil.  Drizzle on the olive oil. 

Cover and cook over medium low heat 30 to 40 minutes WITHOUT removing the cover.  Stir after 30 – 40 minutes and continue cooking COVERED until tender but not overcooked, there should be plenty of juice from the vegetables.  Stir in the tomato paste.  Finish cooking –STILL COVERED.   The sauce should be thin and smooth.  Place a hearty slice of Italian bread in the bottom of a soup plate.  Ladle in the stew and enjoy!

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So that’s all our Mushroom Stew recipes.  Take your pick.  It seems the one thing that all agree on is that the stew must be eaten with a thick slice of fresh Italian bread. 

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Did I follow any of the above recipe exactly?  Of course not.  I took a little bit of everyone’s and made Ted the meaty version.  I will not use Lamb or Veal in cooking but I did add beef, pork, and Italian sausage.

I was also intrigued by the Cubanelles as an alternative to green peppers. 

This is such a popular stew in our home town and I am so happy to share it on my blog with the rest of the world in hopes everyone, everywhere will try one of the recipes and offer some feedback.

Isn’t it fantastic that such a small city such as Utica offers such big, flavorful dishes?  Utica, you’re amazing!

Extra CNYEats A Taste of Utica post for Thanksgiving:  Cranberry Relish by Chris. Check in on November 25 so you can make this delightful sauce for your special day!

Joanne

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6 Comments

  • At 2009.11.22 19:58, Miranda said:

    Wow. Wow. I never heard of mushroom stew, but this looks incredible. I love mushrooms! I love the variety you shared!

    • At 2009.11.22 20:27, Joanne said:

      Thanks Miranda. It’s a local favorite and for very good reasons.

      • At 2009.11.22 20:47, pegasuslegend said:

        very nice missing the resturants from around there when it gets cold out. Love the old east utica Joes,Ventura’s Basiels dont know what’s left there but I love Utica food, and this looks pretty close to what I remember….I would use the lamb as thats my fav…thanks for posting :)

        • At 2009.11.23 05:48, penny aka jeroxie said:

          So many beautiful stews. I will go with the mushroom stews. YUM!

          • At 2009.11.23 10:10, Lu said:

            Those look yummy. I posted something similar on my blog last week. Needless to say this got my mouth watering again.

            • At 2012.12.12 20:27, Russ Christiansen said:

              I never knew mushroom stew was predominately from Utica, N.Y. I grew up in a small town outside Utica (NY Mills) and used to go to Politeri Joe’s for great mushroom stew. What a small world!

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