Wild Mushroom Risotto

As a kid I absolutely hated mushrooms. There was something about the texture I found icky. Young me was prissy couldn't get past the idea that I was eating fungus. (I thought of fungus as poisonous, hairy, foul tasting and smelling stuff. Not at all appetizing.) So, I'm not really sure when I started to like my fungal friends but, now I love them. Raw, grilled, baked, sautéd, on their own or in stuff, I just love em.

(I apologize for this picture. I was making 1 million other dishes and left this pic until way too late. I lost all of my good light and the risotto cooled enough to lose its fluidity. I'm going to replace this photo the next time I make this recipe.)

I created this recipe based on a definitely un-vegan risotto I once saw made on TV. The biggest thing I learned was to whip in a fat and a goo into the dish right at the end. the technique as some sort of fancy Italian name that I can't remember but, all that matters is that it brings the dish together by providing a little bit of structure without causing it to lose its loose consistency. And plus it's fun to really aggressively whip something around in a pan.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups wild mushrooms, your choice, chopped*
2 cloves garlic, finely diced or pressed
1½ cups onion, finely diced 
2 cups Arborio rice
2 cups white wine**
6-8 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp Earth Balance
1 tbsp ground flax
Salt to taste

Soak dried porcinis in 2-3 cups of hot water. Once mushrooms are soft, scoop them out of the liquid and puree them down to a paste. If needed, use a tablespoon or two of the soaking liquid to help puree. Separately set aside porcini paste and liquid.

Coat the bottom of a large, heavy bottomed pan with olive oil and heat over medium-high. Add chopped wild mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms release their liquid. Remove mushrooms and their liquid from the pan and set aside.

Once again, coat the bottom of the pan with oil. When the oil is hot, add onions and sauté until they are soft and aromatic. Add garlic and cook for 1 additional minute, be careful not to burn. Add rice and stir often – rice should become coated in oil – until the grains become translucent***. Add wine and stir often until it has been fully absorbed.

Ladle the porcini soaking liquid over the rice mixture to cover. Stir often until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat this step using vegetable broth until rice is al dente. You want it to be fully cooked but, for it to have some bite still to it. During the last addition of broth, add sautéd mushrooms, 3-4 tbsp of porcini paste and check for seasoning. 

When the rice has reached the desired consistency, remove the pan from the heat. Add Earth Balance and flax. Mix vigorously for 30 seconds, you will notice the consistency of the risotto change as it pulls together more cohesively. Garnish with chives and serve hot.

* Mushrooms shrink considerably when cooked. Therefore, I recommend chopping them into pieces that are twice as large as you'd like to eat.
** Making sure your wine is vegan can be tricky. White wine especially is often filtered with bone char. Barnivore.com is a great website with an extensive listing of vegan wines, beers, and spirits.
*** Some grains will become fully translucent, others only around the edges. This is fine, your risotto will not be ruined, and nothing horrible will happen.


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