Food & Entertaining - In Season

What to do with marvellous morels

Cooking tips and a gourmet recipe for these little harbingers of spring from the forest floor

Here are Kouprie’ tips to ensure your morel risotto comes out perfectly.

  • Use mushrooms of a similar size. If you have a mix of big and small, cut them up so they are uniform.
  • Don’t over-stir. This makes the dish too creamy. The goal is to have rice that’s al dente.
  • Keep the stock hot. Cold stock will slow down the cooking process.
  • Don’t overcook the risotto. If you cook risotto until it’s stiff, it will get hard when it cools on your plate.
  • Resist the urge to add cream. The starch in the rice makes risotto creamy. Champagne, on the other hand, is a lovely addition.

Wild Mushroom Risotto
Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
  • 2 cups (500 mL) assorted morels and chanterelles*
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) minced shallot
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) white wine
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) finely chopped fresh sage
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely diced Spanish onion
  • 2 cups (500 mL) arborio rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) minced garlic
  • 1 cup (250 mL) white wine
  • 5 cups (1.25 L) chicken stock, heated
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) truffle oil (optional)

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the butter and oil. When the butter begins to foam, add the mushrooms and sauté. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are well browned. Add the shallots and garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds and stir in white wine and lemon juice. Remove from heat and stir in sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium-high heat, melt 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the butter with the oil. Once the butter begins to foam, add the onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft and transparent. Add the rice and sauté, stirring and scraping the bottom of the saucepan continuously with a wooden spoon, until the rice begins to toast and the edges become slightly translucent.

Stir in the bay leaf, garlic and white wine, and wait for the first bubbles to appear around the edge of the pan. Begin adding the heated stock, 1 cup (250 mL) at a time. Between each addition of stock, stir the mixture for 2 to 4 minutes or until the liquid is almost completely absorbed. Repeat this step until all but the last 1 cup (250 mL) of stock is used (this process should take approximately 20 to 25 minutes). Add the remaining stock and stir the risotto vigorously during the last minutes of cooking.

To assemble
Fold the mushrooms into the risotto. Gently stir in the remaining butter, the Parmesan and the balsamic vinegar. Divide the risotto evenly among four heated dishes, drizzle with truffle oil (if using) and serve immediately.

* Any combination of wild mushroom will work. When wild mushrooms aren’t available, use cultivated mushrooms such as shiitake and cremini.

Excerpt (slightly modified by me) with permission. From Pangaea: Why It Tastes So Good, by Martin Kouprie (Key Porter, 2010)

Charmian Christie is an avid gardener and home cook. When she's not digging in the dirt, she's charting her culinary adventures on her blog, Christie's Corner.


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