Al Dente: Wild Mushroom Ragu

There are certain cooks and cookbooks who jump straight to the ‘Yeah I’m trying that.’ Smitten Kitchen, the culinary magic user responsible for this pile of awesomeness, is one of them.

 Now, Victor? Cue the music.


There are many recipes that are easy.

That are many recipes that taste amazing.

There are not many that are all three.

This is one of them.

You’ve left the living room. And gone to the kitchen. You’re about to go on a journey beyond sight and sound but to right in front of the hob. You’re about to enter…

The Ragu Zone.

VICTOR! Today’s unwary visitors beyond the scary door if you please!


What’s it looking like? Well, it’s looking like:


-Cooking plonk

-Button mushrooms

-Beef stock


-Red Onion

-Olive oil

-Goats cheese


So, first up you’re going to finely chop the onion. Finely, in this case, does not mean 1mm squares. You’re not looking for fancy, you’re looking for small than your fingernail or close enough. Once that’s done, tablespoon two lugs (St Jamie’s name) of olive oil into a pan and bring it to a heat. Then, drop your onions in there.

Wild Mushroom Ragu 2

See, smaller than a fingernail, larger than a finely wafted atom that Heston Blumenthal has sprayed with essence of times gone by before lightly heating it on an artisanal bonfire.

Speaking of FIRE! You will, almost certainly, have the heat too high. I always do. Adjust it, and stir the onions until they’re golden brown, not black. Stranglers? You’re golden. Rolling Stones? Step too far.

Once that’s done chop two cloves of garlic. If you have one, use a garlic smusher, they’re awesome and retain the paper and external shell while firing a high velocity jet of minced garlic at the pan. If not, top and tail the garlic, peel the outer shell off, take the flat of your knife and press down until it pops. Then chop the burst garlic with the same rustic jois de vive as before and throw it in the oil with the onion.

Put the kettle on. Make a cup of tea.


You’ll need water in a minute anyway and it’s a pretty great way of timing the cooking.

028Once that’s done, empty your mushrooms out onto a chopping board and quarter them. Don’t be flashy, once again. Also maybe don’t go any bigger than button mushrooms. They cook really well and quartered they’re the perfect size for this dish. Then, chuck them in with the onions and garlic and add the plonk! Doesn’t matter what sort either red or white works brilliantly. How much plonk?



A half cup basically.

The pan is going to hiss and steam like crazy. Let it, and keep stirring until the plonk is absorbed, which it will be. Then, take some of the non-tea boiling water and make a half cup of beef stock.

Wild Mushroom Ragu 3Then, add that and stir until it’s mostly absorbed. Add salt and pepper to taste and then go with your heart. If you want this with some sauce then pull it off the heat nice and early. I like to cook it all the way down so the mushrooms are coated in this wonderful, unctuous treacle of stock and mushroom juice.

Then, add a little thyme, put it in a bowl and drop some goats cheese on top.



You will be amazed by both how good this tastes and how little you need to eat. It’s hearty, filling and goes brilliantly with crusty bread. Have at!



-Amazing beef stew, just with mushrooms instead of beef. Or stew.


-Baguettes. Baked Potatoes. Very nearly everything else.


If you dislike mushrooms this is not for you.


Next time, pizza! For real this time!

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