Chestnut mushrooms with roasted chestnuts in a Madeira wine sauce is doing double duty as the perfect side dish or a vegetarian main course. Perfect when you have vegan and meat-eaters gathering around the same table. No need to make two dishes, we can all share!
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I have been making variations of this Epicurious recipe for years, but the heavy cream and wild mushrooms were a little too much for people to handle when I amde it for our holidya table.
Over time I found ways to save time and make it using ingredients that were easy to find and that I typically have on hand. But without sacrificing all the fabulous flavor.
It has all the things an easy dish should be; one-pot, make-ahead, pulls double duty as a main course or a side dish and you can recycle it all winter long! It makes meat-eaters and vegans both happy.
The only confusing part is that we have two types of chestnuts...chestnut mushrooms and roasted chestnuts.
What are Chestnut Mushrooms
A Chestnut Mushroom is the same mushroom as white button mushrooms, but they are a variation that grows brown instead of white, giving it a tan-coloured top. The common name chestnut has been mistakenly applied to the baby bella or crimini mushroom, because of the shape and color.
Recipe Ingredients & Substitutions
- Chestnut Mushrooms- These mushrooms are the star of the show. Most stores do not label them as chestnut mushrooms but typically button mushrooms and you can tell they are tan or brown rather than white. If not available cremini or baby portabella mushrooms can be substituted.
- Roasted Chestnuts- During the fall or winter seasons packs of pre-roasted chestnuts are readily available at big box stores like Costco (where I normally pick them up) and our local grocery store. They may be in a jar or a vacuum-sealed package. Want to roast your own? Martha Stewart can help you with that. Chestnuts are not crunchy like other nuts so there isn't a great substitution. If you can't find them you can add pecan halves or pieces. Just know the dish will have a different texture.
- Dried Porcini- We are going to turn the porcinis into a powder to use as a thickener so only dried mushrooms will work. It is the secret of the whole dish! If you can't find porcinis, any mild dried mushroom blend or dried shitakes will work but the flavor will be different.
- Madeira Wine- This fortified wine is our choice for this dish. If you can't find it substitute another fortified wine like Port or Sherry. The point of using fortified wines over red wine in this dish is to have a sweetness to marry the chestnuts to the earthy mushrooms. If you do not cook with alcohol use vegetable stock plus 1 teaspoon of coconut sugar and one tablespoon of cider vinegar. You need a tad of sweetness and a bit of acid to complete the dish.
- Almond Milk- We use plant-based milk to keep this recipe dairy-free and vegan friendly. However, you can substitute any unflavored unsweetened plant milk. Or cream if you aren't concerned about dairy.
- Ghee- We used ghee in this recipe but substitute coconut oil for your vegan friends.
How to Make Chestnut Mushrooms with Madeira
The key ingredient is not the fresh mushrooms or the roasted chestnuts but dried porcini mushrooms. Typically, we rehydrate dried mushrooms for cooking.
But grinding up the porcini mushrooms into a powder allows them to become the thickener for the sauce. Avoiding the gumminess, a gluten-free starch or flour would give if you make the recipe ahead of time. Plus, they provide additional flavor without the wait time of rehydrating.
Next, melt your ghee or coconut oil in a large skillet with high sides over medium heat. Saute the shallots until they soften and then add the garlic for a quick 30 to 60 second saute. Keep an eye on things. Don't let the onions or the garlic burn.
Add the chestnut mushrooms cut into quarters. Saute for 10 minutes. We want them to release their excess water but whittle down to nothing. Add your thyme and dried porcini powder. Stir to coat each mushroom with the porcini powder. This will help with even thickening later.
Add the Madiera wine (or stock plus sugar and vinegar) and cook until reduced by two-thirds. Add the chestnuts and the almond milk to the pan. Cook until the chestnuts are warmed through and the sauce is thick and creamy.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Just a note, we don't add salt to the dish until the end because the amount can vary if suing stock vs wine. Also, mushrooms are finicky about salt. They absorb and it can result in over salting the dish. When using wine I typically use ⅓- ½ teaspoon of salt and ⅛ teaspoon of black pepper.
Transfer to a serving dish. For an easy weeknight dinner, we serve this over brown rice and with a side of our brussel sprout salad.
Making Chesnut Mushrooms in Advanced
If making this recipe in advanced you will stop after reducing the wine. It will keep in the refridgerator for 2-3 days.
Reheat on the stovetop over medium-low with ¼ cup of water, once that water is evaporated and the mushrooms are warm through you can continue.
The dish can be kept warm by covering and keeping in a 200 degree oven.
Chestnut Mushrooms with Roasted Chestnuts
- Place dried porcini mushrooms in a spice grinder and pulse until a powder forms, set aside.
- Melt ghee in a large skillet, sauté shallots until they start to brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, stirring 1 minute.
- Add mushrooms, sauté for 10 minutes, until they release their water and it is almost evaporated.
- Add thyme leaves and porcini powder, stir to coat the mushrooms.
- Add wine, simmer until reduced by ⅔.
- Add chestnuts and almond milk, cook until chestnuts are warmed through and sauces thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with additional thyme leaves, if desired
- To make ahead of time, follow directions without adding almond milk. Reheat on the stovetop and add the almond milk at the end. See the blog post for additional details.
- See post for Madiera wine substitutions.