‘Ciulama de Ciuperci‘ is a Romanian creamy dish made with cream, mushrooms and sometimes chicken. It is similar to the French dish ‘velouté de volaille aux champignons‘. Both recipes start with a roux (a fried mix of butter and flour) which is not really that healthy and can aggravate gastric reflux or heartburn, a common problem in our days.
To make this dish lighter and easier to digest, I skipped making a roux and used coconut milk. This creamy mushroom and chicken recipe is comforting, nutritious, and easy to make. It’s also lectin-free, gluten-free and dairy-free.
The perfect fall lectin-free meal
Although this is a popular Romanian recipe, for some reason, it was not a dish made in our home. So I rarely had it back in Romania. But who doesn’t like creamy chicken mushroom (my mom I guess 😁)? While the name ‘ciulama’ has Turkish origin, the dish resembles more a French ‘velouté de volaille aux champignons‘ than any Turkish dish.
Traditionally this dish is made with chicken and mushrooms. You can also make it vegan and use only a mix of mushrooms. The traditional preparation starts with a roux (flour cooked in butter), but I am not a fan of this technique which was often used in Romanian food and gave me terrible heartburn all my life. I am truly convinced the same results can be achieved without this step.
If you eat dairy, you can use organic cream for this dish, but so many people have a hard time digesting dairy, and they don’t even know it. Although I do occasionally eat dairy made with A2 casein milk (Jersey milk, goat, sheep, or buffalo milk), in creamy dishes like this one, I prefer to use coconut milk. You will need canned, full-fat coconut milk (choose an organic and BPA-free can is possible. This is the brand I use.
How to make ciulama de ciuperci with chicken
The recipe requires boiled chicken and chicken stock, so there are a few ways you can approach it. I went all in and made the chicken and vegetable stock first. I used vegetables I had in the fridge: carrots, onions, celery and celeriac, parsnip, fennel bulb and leaves.
For the chicken, I used 4 boneless thighs and 2 whole chicken legs, with bones, from pasture-raised chickens. You can use a full chicken, half chicken, or any pieces with meat and bones. Leftover chicken from broth is great to freeze and use for other meals.
See more details here for lectin-light, pasture-raised chicken and how to order online.
If you don’t have time and want to make this dish faster, and have compliant chicken stock and cooked chicken around, you can totally skip making the stock. You can also use GundryMD vegetable broth for this recipe.
GundryMD Lectin-Free Vegetable Broth
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I used the carrot from the stock and added it to the final dish, mostly for color, but it’s optional. Cooked carrots are not recommended if you have diabetes or are insulin resistant. But, if you use it, don’t overcook it, take it out from the stock while is still firm (you want the pieces in the final dish to be firm, not mushy).
Regarding the mushrooms, you can simply use crimini mushrooms or a combination of crimini and other types of mushrooms. I used about 10 big crimini and for more depth of flavor and texture a Chef’s selection mushroom pack I found in Whole Foods (pictured above).
Warning though, some mushrooms can be a little slimy, which I totally love and I think they give this dish a nice stickiness. If you are not a fan use the mushrooms you know you like and you are used to cooking with. That being said, I would not use shiitake mushrooms for this dish (I don’t have an explanation for this it’s just a gut feeling, haha).
How to serve creamy mushroom chicken, Romanian style
We served the creamy mushroom chicken with sautéed broccolini for me. I added Indian Basmati rice for my husband. I personally love it with something like broccoli but you can serve it with anything you feel like, including Miracle noodles or rice (shirataki noodles). But enough talk, let’s get to the recipe already.
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Creamy Mushroom Chicken, Romanian Style
A creamy, hearty and silky dish perfect for the colder season.
- TO MAKE THE CHICKEN STOCK:
- 15-20 oz pasture-raised chicken with bones (or use more and have some cooked chicken for another dish)
- A mix of stock vegetables (scraps if you have): onion, celery, celeriac, parsnip, carrots, fennel, parsley (use one whole big peeled carrot as you will use it later in the dish)
- Spices: 2 bay leaves, peppercorns, iodized sea salt
- TO MAKE THE CREAMY MUSHROOM AND CHICKEN:
- 10 big crimini whole mushrooms, washed, dried and sliced
- a couple of handfuls of other mushrooms, some wild (for texture and depth of flavor, if not using other mushrooms double the crimini quantity)
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 sprig of thyme (use it whole and remove it when the dish is ready)
- 1 bunch fresh parsley, washed, dried and chopped
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- about 1 cup of chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot flour (dissolved first in cold water)
- avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- lemon juice to taste
- the cooked carrot from the stock
MAKE THE STOCK:
Add the chicken to a stockpot filled with water (leave some space for vegetables). Bring to a boil and cook the chicken for about 20 minutes, and regularly skim until no foam is formed on the surface. After about 20 minutes, add the vegetables (the carrot has to be whole and peeled). Add the bay leaves, salt and peppercorns. Let it all simmer for another 20 minutes and so, and keep skimming the foam if there is more. Take the carrot out while still firm. When the stock is done (chicken is cooked), take the chicken out on a plate and strain the stock. Discard the rest of the veggies. Remove the skin and bones of the chicken and shred the meat (add some stock on top of it and cover the chicken while you are cooking the mushrooms, so it doesn't dry out). You will only need one cup of stock for this dish, store the rest in the fridge for another dish.
MAKE THE CREAMY MUSHROOMS AND CHICKEN:
Add a generous amount of avocado oil to a big sauteeing pan, on medium heat. Add the clean, dry and chopped mushrooms and the garlic and sauté until moisture is released and fragrant, about 15 minutes (stir regularly).
Add some stock if it starts sticking to the pan. Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the shredded chicken, and mix well.
Add the coconut milk, and some stock but not more than 1 cup. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken.
Prepare the arrowroot flour by dissolving it in cold water to get a paste. Add a few teaspoons of warm stock to the arrowroot paste, then add everything to the dish. Stir well and cook for another 5 minutes or so. It will start to thicken.
Add the fresh parsley, taste for salt and pepper, and add some lemon juice to your taste. Add the chopped, cooked carrot if using.
Serve with steamed, baked or sautéed broccoli, broccolini or broccoli rabe, or anything green for a pop of color.
Please read the post above for more details of the process.