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I use mushrooms mainly to bulk up food, for example, I add them to cottage pie, lasagne, etc.. and they can turn 1lb of minced into 1.5lb. Also, I particularly like venison stew (which seems to require a huge quantity of mushrooms).

The problem that I have is that my daughter can't stand mushrooms, and studiously picks them ot of all her food. Is there an alternative for them for the two uses above?

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If you have a meat grinder, you could probably get the mushrooms small enough that she can't easily tell the difference. (or pick them out, even if she wanted to). There are also companies that sell mushroom powder (typically porcini), but you can make your own from any dried mushroom if you have a spice grinder (aka, a coffee grinder that you don't let coffee near). –  Joe Jan 27 at 2:52

3 Answers 3

I concur with Elendi's answer, especially about the dumplings in stew (but I love dumplings).

As far as stretching minced (ground) meat, I recommend you try TVP. You might be amazed how innocuous it is, and how far you can stretch meat. For an organic product that does not contain hexane (the potential carcinogen noted in the Wiki article) try TSP. It's a bit more expensive, but once hydrated, it's a whole lot less expensive than meat.

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Root vegetables are the standard bulkers - potato, swede/rutabaga and the like. For certain dishes you could also add beans and pulses (but if you put beans in lasagne you may find yourself banned from entering Italy). You can also make dumplings, which are great way to make a stew-based meal more filling.

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Mushrooms aren't a particularly cheap way to bulk up a meal, and their flavor and texture is such that there is no real substitute. They don't have much nutritional content anyway, so there's no point in adding them unless people really like them. In a way your question is too broad as there's so many things you can do to bulk up a meal. You can serve it over rice or noodles, you can add barley, potatoes, beans, lentils, or just add nothing and put some bread on the side.

From a flavor perspective it's not so simple. Mushrooms have umami flavor, which adds a savory note to a dish. You aren't going to replace that flavor with root vegetables or carbs. If you want to replace that flavor with something else you could use something like mushroom ketchup, tomatoes, or soy - all have umami.

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