All kinds of mushroom textures and flavours, with plenty of deep, rich, savoury flavour – all topped off with a little swirl of Stilton…
I made this wild mushroom risotto with a combination of hedgehog, winter chanterelle (pictured below), bay bolete, amethyst deceiver and cauliflower mushrooms foraged on a guided hunt in beautiful Sussex.
The stock utilises two interesting flavour techniques designed to give maximum umami taste to vegetarian stocks and sauces.The first is ground mushroom powder. I keep this umami-rich powder on hand for various flavouring tasks. Grind either dried porcini or shittake mushrooms in a spice grinder or high-powered blender and store in an airtight container. As a powder, rather than whole mushrooms, it blends easily and powerfully into liquids and does not need rehydrating first.
The second is the addition of sherry to the stock. Compounds that result from a yeast-like growth in aging sherry create a synergistic relationship with umami compounds in food, significantly boosting complexity and flavour, even when a tiny amount is used. This is great for tomato sauces and other umami-rich ingredients, as well as stock.
A bowl of autumn comfort…
Wild mushroom risotto
- 500 g fresh wild mushrooms sliced
- 6 tablespoons butter or oil
- 2.5 litres water
- 2 tablespoons shiitake or porcini powder
- 2 tablespoons homemade stock paste or natural stock powder
- 3 tsp dry sherry not Madeira or Port
- 2 onions chopped in 5mm pieces
- 6 cloves garlic crushed (or more to taste)
- 250 ml white wine
- fresh thyme to taste
- 50 g vegetarian 'Parmesan' finely grated
- 100 g Stilton or other strongly flavoured cheese chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- Sauté the fresh mushrooms in batches over high heat in about 1 tablespoon of butter or oil. If you are using different mushroom types, cook them separately as they will likely have different water contents and cooking properties. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. You do not need to keep adding butter or oil, just scoop the cooked mushrooms out of the pan, set aside, and add more fresh mushrooms. Wild mushrooms frequently contain a lot of water, so the high heat will help you evaporate the water and enable you to lightly brown them. When they are all cooked, return them all to the pan, season well with salt and freshly ground pepper and set aside.
- Create your risotto stock by bringing the water, shiitake/porcini powder and stock paste/powder to the boil in a separate saucepan. Turn the heat down, but keep it hot. Get a ladle ready.
- In another large heavy-bottomed saucepan, fry the onions and garlic over low heat in 2 tablespoons of butter or oil. When softened and translucent, about 10 minutes, add the rice and stir well to coat in the butter or oil. Cook the rice for about 5 minutes, stirring to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the white wine and stir while the rice absorbs the liquid. Start adding the stock, a ladle or two at a time, and continue to stir while the rice absorbs the liquid. Keep adding and stirring until the rice is softened, cooked all the way through and very creamy. When the rice is cooked and is the desired consistency (you may not need all the stock or may need to add a little more hot water), check for seasoning. You will most likely need to add more salt - with all that starchy rice, it is very important that a risotto is not under-seasoned as it will not really taste of anything, no matter how many other flavourings you include.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked mushrooms, fresh thyme, lots of black pepper, 'Parmesan', Stilton and about 3 tablespoons of butter. Cover and rest for 10 minutes before serving.