Today we start a series on mushrooms. Not because we don’t like holiday foods but because there are still local foods to be had and we just can’t pass up fresh fungi. This may mark the end of our über-local focus for awhile. After the first of the year we’ll have to go regional and get creative.
Reading about chanterelles, which are likely in their last weeks of harvest, I noticed that they contain some of the richest levels of vitamin D of any food. Isn’t that perfect? We northerners need vitamin D this dark time of year and here it is, growing in the woods. And in a form we clamor to eat. The ground giveth when the sky taketh away. And not only are they full of edible sunshine but potassium and vitamin C.
Despite the too-early sunsets, we’ve had weeks of cold, sunny weather and Colorado skies. The kids still play on the school playground after school. The leaves aren’t yet beat into the lawn by the rain. It’s glorious. Still, my kids are jonesing for snow.
I prefer the frost and bright air. While I was waiting for the risotto to cook, I stepped into our backyard to take a few photos. It was mid-morning and the frost was still coating the twigs of the Japanese maple. The ice on our pond was surreal, stretched over the rocks like Saran Wrap. This is just enough winter for me.
You notice I said I was waiting for the risotto to cook. Chie notes below that risotto requires continual attention. Here’s my confession and tip for you: I’ve never made risotto the traditional way. At a cooking class years ago I asked the instructor if a pressure cooker would be worth buying since I’m vegetarian. He lit up, “Beans!” he said, “they cook in minutes. And risotto! Here, you have to buy this cookbook,” and scribbled the title on a piece of paper.
He was right. Once we bought a pressure cooker, we started making risotto once a week. The classic Arborio rice cooks in six minutes once it’s up to pressure. This brown rice risotto cooked in 20 minutes plus a few additional minutes without the lid, to steam off a little extra liquid.
If you have time, make it as below. I imagine you’ll have more control over the texture. But if you have a pressure cooker, give it a try for a quick meal sometime and take a few minutes while it’s cooking to step outside or to prepare accompaniments for this warm, comforting meal.
Brown Rice Risotto with Chanterelles
When I worked at Carmelita, mushroom mongers would show us their foragings
during the spring and fall. We would sauté them and serve as a side dish with polenta or risotto.
Similarly, The chanterelles at the Olympia Food Co-op come from foragers in the Olympia area.
This dish is inspired by the risotto that I learned to make at Carmelita. This would be a good dinner
for the weekend or a night when you can leisurely make a meal: the stirring is a process.
It’s well worth it; the rich creaminess you attain is delicious!
A green salad with a light vinaigrette and a brothy soup will make this a hearty autumn meal.
For the mushrooms
½ lb chanterelles
1 medium shallot, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 sprigs thyme
1 T ghee or coconut oil
Celtic sea salt
For the risotto
1 ½ c Golden Rose medium-grain brown rice
or short-grain brown rice**
½ c sweet glutinous brown rice
5 c mushroom, vegetable, chicken broth, or bone broth
1 ½ T ghee or oil
½ medium yellow onion, small dice
1 stalk celery, small dice (optional)
⅓ bulb fennel bulb, small dice (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c white wine or sake
2 cups kale, chopped
⅓ bunch Italian parsley, chopped
pecorino romano cheese, grated for garnish
**Arborio rice is traditionally used for making risotto. I like using these because they are whole grain and have more fiber and nutrients.
Soak the rice for about an hour or up to overnight. Wash and drain in a fine mesh colander.
Heat the stock in a small pot so it will be the same temperature as the risotto.
Brush the pine needles and dirt off of the mushrooms with a towel or kitchen brush.
Mushrooms in general are like sponges when they come in contact with water so I don’t like to
wash them unless they really need a bath. If you do need to wash them, set them on a towel to dry
before cooking. The bottom of the stems may need to be trimmed a little. If large, cut into bite-sized pieces.
Heat the ghee in a medium cast iron pan. When it starts to shimmer, add the clean, dry chanterelles.
Do not stir initially since we want a sear. When the juices cook off, add shallots, garlic, thyme leaves
and salt and finish sautéeing. It may take a couple of batches to sauté all the mushrooms.
You don’t want to overcrowd the pan or they will steam and get mushy.
In a wide, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté the onion until fragrant. Add garlic and the fennel and celery, if using.
Sauté for several minutes.
Add the well-drained rice and stir to coat with the ghee or oil. When heated through, deglaze with
white wine or sake. Cook off the alcohol by stirring it and letting the steam out. When the rice starts to
look dry, add 2 ladlefuls of hot broth. Stir the rice with a wooden spoon over medium heat. When most of the
broth is absorbed, add another ladle. Repeat until the rice holds its shape, but is cooked through.
It is desirable to have some texture so cook to al dente, just as with pasta, but enough so it will digest.
Cook and taste as you go.
This process takes 30 minutes or so. Put on some music, have a glass of your favorite beverage and stir away!
Once your desired texture is reached, add the chopped kale.
Cook for just a few minutes then stir in the parsley and thyme. Adjust with salt.
Serve in individual bowls, top with the sautéed mushrooms and grated pecorino. Enjoy!