Wild Mushroom Risotto

This dish is great comfort food for the onset of chilly Autumn days.

I must stress, DO NOT EAT ANY MUSHROOMS YOU ARE NOT ABSOLUTELY SURE ABOUT. You should always check with someone with a good knowledge of wild mushrooms, or use a good book that you can list at least 5 similarities with the specimen in the book. I have found The River Cottage handbook: No1 Mushrooms very helpful and well explained.

The mushrooms we found in the woods for this recipe are Chanterelles and hedgehog mushrooms, which often grow together. They are a good place to start with wild mushrooms as neither are very pungent and the kids seem to enjoy them.

At this time of year these mushrooms can be found in good food shops, but this risotto could also be made with ordinary button mushrooms, although I would add a little crispy bacon at the end for added flavor. It won’t be the same, but a good alternative.

Utensils
2 Pots, 1 with a wide base
1 Ladle
1Wooden spoon
1 spatula

Ingredients
Serves 4/6

1 medium onion
2 cloves of Garlic
400g Risotto rice (Arborio or Carnaroli rice)( 50g of quinoa can be substituted here for 50g of rice for extra nutritional value)
80g Butter
300g Mushrooms (A rough guide)
1 litre Chicken/vegetable stock
200g Parmesan freshly grated
Olive oil

Method
this should take roughly 20 min

  1. Put the stock in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. If necessary use some good quality, organic stock cubes and boiling water.
  2. Put a pan on a moderate heat, when just warm add ½ the butter, let it foam, but not brown.
  3. Add the mushrooms and fry for a few minutes, mixing them around in the butter. Set aside.
  4. Warm a glug of olive oil in a wide bottomed saucepan.
  5. On a low heat, cook the onion and garlic, you do not want this to brown. Add a little salt and pepper(optional). A small amount of salt at this stage  does a lot to bring out the flavor meaning less salt is required overall.
  6. When soft turn heat to medium, add the rice, and mix around in the oil for 1 minute making sure it does not brown. This allows the rice to soak up liquid less quickly, which is what we need for risotto.
  7. Start adding the hot stock ladle by ladle. Allow each ladle to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring a lot. As well as stopping the rice from sticking the stirring helps the creaminess come out in the rice. Therefore the more you stir the creamier the risotto will be
  8. Keep stirring until 2/3 of the liquid has been absorbed, then add the mushrooms from the pan.
  9. After one or two more ladles add the rest of the butter and ½ the Parmesan.
  10. Stir in well, put a lid on the pot and leave off the heat for 1 or 2 minutes. During this time the mushroom flavor will mix with the rice, the butter and Parmesan will give it a silky texture and the rice will be perfect.
  11. Remove the lid, the risotto might need a little more stock so it’s oozy, or hot water would do perfectly fine. The risotto should have movement and should not be sticky. You should be just about able to pour it out of the pot.
  12. Serve with grated Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.
Tip: If the wild mushrooms are too much for the kids to manage  take them out before serving. They will have given their flavour to the dish and at this point it’s good to get them used to different tastes without being put off by the texture.

Cleaning the mushrooms
It’s best to brush off the debris on the mushrooms with a soft pastry brush or a damp cloth. Mushrooms absorb a lot of water and should not be washed.  If you insist on this, dunk them in an out of a bowl of water as quickly as possible and leave to drain on some kitchen paper.