Autumn is the season of wild mushrooms and we couldn’t be more excited. Each year we throw on our gum boots and warm coats, grab a basket and knife and head out mushroom foraging. Our family has been doing it for generations, and we have been going since we could walk. It’s probably one our families favourite traditions and you’ll find a lot of other Eastern European families do the same each year. We usually go out to Belanglo State Forest, which is about a 2.5 hour drive out of Sydney. Oh, and never fear, Ivan Milat is safely locked away so there are no risks of getting kidnapped, tortured and killed. Just saying! But you can usually find mushrooms growing under any pine tree that has the correct conditions and after a long rainfall.
The mushrooms we pick are Slippery Jacks (in polish) and Pine mushrooms or otherwise (in polish) called saffron milk caps. In Poland the pine mushrooms are extreamly prized and favourted as they can often be rarer to find. The slippery jacks are extreamly delicious but require a lot more prep work to get them to the edible stage, and here in NSW they are slightly less abundant.
When we forage we usually cook up some mushrooms to eat over a camp fire, with loads of butter, garlic and fresh herbs. Simply delicious served on some good quality sourdough bread. Then we take some home and we can either pickle them, dry them or freeze them for later use.
At home I love making a wild mushroom risotto. It really lets the mushrooms shine and helps make the most of their delicious flavour. As its autumn it’s a bit cooler too so this warming dish is a perfect Vegetarian staple to have!
*** As fun as this all looks, please don’t eat any mushrooms you pick without first consulting an expert.
Sammy’s Wild Mushroom Risotto
1 sprig of thyme
2 L vegetable stock
3 large French onions, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
60ml olive oil
500g risotto rice, Arborio or carnaroli
250ml Dry white wine
100g dried mushrooms, dried slippery jacks or dried porchini
200g fresh or frozen mushrooms, wild pine or Portobello, sliced into 5mm thick pieces
½ cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper
½ bunch flat parsley leaves, finely chopped
Optional: truffle oil
- Heat vegetable stock in a sauce pan to a low simmer, add in dried mushrooms and thyme sprig to infuse. Infuse for at least 30 minutes. Discard thyme. Keep stock hot, but not boiling.
- To make risotto, gently fry onions and garlic in olive oil in a large pan or pot. When translucent add risotto rice and fry for about a minute. On a medium to high heat. Deglaze the pan with wine and allow rice to absorb while stirring.
- Once the wine has been absorbed add a ladle full of hot stock to risotto and stir. Be carful not to add in dried mushrooms to the risotto. Once absorbed add another ladle full of stock and remember to keep stirring. Repeat this procedure until the rice has almost doubled in size and is about 10 minutes away from being cooked al dente.
- Remove the dried mushrooms from the stock and finely chop. Add into the risotto along with parmesan and stir.
- Next heat a large fry pan on high and melt about 30g of butter. Fry your sliced fresh mushrooms on both sides until caramelized. Don’t over crowd the pan as you’ll stew the mushrooms. Do in batches if necessary.
- Finish cooking risotto and add in 25g butter and stir through. The consistency should be thick and runny so that when it is spooned onto a plate the risotto spreads out. Place fried mushrooms on top and finish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley and drizzle of good quality olive oil. Optional: drizzle with truffle oil for extra mushroom flavour.