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Wild Mushroom Risotto

Autumn = Glorious Mushroom Time!

As a bonafide "fungophile", I relish any opportunity to get involved with mushrooms- whether it be eating, picking or cooking... The delightful image of the wild mushrooms in a basket below was taken by my lovely friend Sarah who went mushroom foraging with her mum on a Sunday morning in Berkshire after a big party in London the night before, what a good daughter! This photo beckoned me to make a wild mushroom risotto and embrace autumn with open arms... and so I did.

I recently discovered in my real food journey that (guess what?) you can make incredibly creamy and delicious risotto with brown rice. You can use any short-grain brown rice variety and you will get the same creamy results but so much better for you! The only caveat is it does take longer than regular arborio or carnaroli rice. You can make one adjustment here and parboil the brown rice for 20 minutes before adding it to the onion, garlic and mushroom mixture.

As with all my recipes, I try to steer away from precise measurements as much as possible (sometimes precision is important but here not so much) and give you a rough guide of what worked for me, as it will differ so much from rice to rice, stove to stove, so you need to experiment, taste and try and find out what works for you. Another super discovery for this risotto is this Kallo Organic Mushroom Stock. As it's organic there is no funny business, no MSG, no preservatives. And it gave this mushroom risotto an even more decadent, luxurious mushroom flavour.

Aside from being absolutely delicious, mushrooms are a powerhouse of nutrition and health benefits. Mushrooms are well known for their immune-boosting properties and a good source of fibers that lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health. Moreover, mushrooms are among the only natural food sources of vitamin D, and mushrooms are one of the few foods that contain germanium, a trace mineral that helps your body use oxygen efficiently and prevents against damaging effects of free radicals. Many mushrooms are also good sources of selenium, an antioxidant mineral, as well as copper, niacin, potassium and phosphorous. So let's get munching some mushrooms whilst so many of the wild varieties are in season...

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Total Time: 1 hour
Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 350g mixed mushrooms, cultivated or wild, chopped into bite sized chunks (shiitake, chanterelle, chestnut, girolle, oyster)
  • 30g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked off
  • few knobs of butter or olive oil (one that can be heated)
  • 1 cup of organic short-grain brown rice
  • 1 litre of homemade mushroom stock (see below how to make, otherwise you can also just use a vegetable broth or chicken broth)
  • 1 onion, minced
  • few cloves of garlic, minced
  • a dash of dry white wine or or any white spirit like vermouth
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • drizzle of truffle oil
  • handful of grated pecorino cheese or 2 tsp of nutritional yeast for vegans (optional)
  • fresh chives, parsley leaves for garnish

Instructions:
1. Soak the porcini mushrooms in boiling water until the mushrooms are soft, approx 10-15mins. Put 2 mushroom stock cubes in 1 litre of fresh filtered water in a pot and heat until just simmering making sure the stock dissolves throughout.

2. Put two tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan and toss in the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt. Stir until softened. Stir in roughly chopped mushrooms with fresh thyme leaves and cook for a few minutes. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes to toast the outside of the rice grains, trying to cover all rice grains in butter. If you are adding parboiled rice, you will not be able to toast the outside of the rice grains or cover them in butter very well but do your best.

3. Add the wine and stir until the wine has evaporated.

4. Pour the porcini and the water they have been soaking in to the rice mixture and stir until evaporated.

5. Now start adding the stock, one ladleful at a time, only adding the next ladleful when the last one has been absorbed. Don’t stop stirring the rice as you don’t want it to stick to the bottom and the continued movement will release the starch in the rice and make it creamy.

6. When you’ve been cooking the rice for about 20 mins, start tasting it regularly to test for al dente-ness: this is when there is a little resistance when you bite into the grain. Continue to add stock until it gets to this point.

7. Take the risotto off the heat, drizzle with truffle oil and sprinkle with pecorino (if you are using) and stir through. (I find that high-quality truffle oil is so intensely delicious it does not need any cheese but up to you). Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle a few green leaves as always, chives or parsley work best here!

Homemade Mushroom Broth

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups frozen mushroom stems
  • 2 cups frozen vegetable scraps (onion and shallot skins, carrot and celery trimmings, etc.)
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 litres (8 cups) fresh filtered water
  • 1 tbsp sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in large stock pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer partially covered for 45 minutes; remove lid and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes more. If using to make risotto right away then pour straight into your rice. If saving for later, allow broth to cool, then pour through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Press vegetable scraps against the strainer with a wooden spoon in order to extract as much broth as possible. Discard solids and store in a sterilised glass kilner/mason jar, plastic container or freezer bag.
  2. Alternatively, if you have a slow cooker, place all ingredients in your slow cooker and allow to cook for 3-6 hours then follow the same instructions. 
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