It took me a while to figure out how to name this dish. The inspiration was a Romanian dish called ‘ciulama’, but I figured that would be difficult to spell and pronounce for non-Romanian speakers so I decided to leave it out. Of course, I put a Plant Paradox spin on it, cut out some of the saturated fat and made it a little lighter and lectin-free. This Creamy mushroom and chicken dish is the perfect meal for the colder season, and one of those that the entire family will love.
The perfect fall lectin-free meal
For some reason I don’t know, this was not a dish made in our home, so I rarely had it back in Romania, but who doesn’t like creamy chicken and mushroom (my mom I guess, haha)? 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, but you can also make it plant based and used 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) and I am truly convinced the same results can be achieved without this step. Heavy cream or sour cream are borderline Plant Paradox compliant (in small quantities) and I didn’t want to make this dish super heavy with saturated fats. So I replaced the cream with coconut milk and it worked perfectly well. You will have to use the canned one though, not the drinking one in a cartoon. This is the brand one I use.
The dish requires boiled chicken and chicken stock, so there are 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 chicken I used 4 boneless tights and 2 full chicken legs, with bones. It has to be pastured raised to be plant paradox compliant. I get mine from Burgundy Pasture Beef, a local store in Dallas Fort Worth area. The reason I used this combination is because this is what I had frozen, but you can use a whole chicken, or breasts with bones, or a combination. In the end, after I shredded the chicken, I didn’t use it all for the dish, I kept about one third in the fridge and later made a chicken salad. If you don’t have time and want to make this dish faster, and have a compliant chicken stock and cooked chicken around, you can totally skip making the stock. 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 hard (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 give this dish a nice stickiness, but if you are not a fan use the mushrooms you know you like and are used to cook 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).
We served the dish with sautéed broccolini for me, and 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, inclusive Miracle noodles or rice (shirataki noodles). But enough talk, let’s get to the recipe already.
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Creamy Mushroom and 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 big peeled carrot if you plan to add it later to 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 mix 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 tbsp arrowroot flour (dissolved first in cold water)
- avocado oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- lemon juice to taste
- the cooked carrot if using
MAKE THE STOCK: add the chicken to a stock pot filled with water (leave some space for vegetables). Bring to a boil and cook the chicken for about 20 minutes, and skim regularly, until no foam is formed on the surface. After about 20 minutes add the vegetables (peel the carrot if you want to use it later in the dish). 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 is using in the dish later. 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 MUSHROOMS: 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. few tsps of warm stock to the arrowroot paste, then add to the dish. Mix well and cook for another 5 minutes or so. It will start to thicken. Add the fresh parsley, taste for sat 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.