Gather spring mushrooms and morels – even in urban areas

Morchella esculentaAs the days get longer and hopefully warmer we look to the woodlands for the delights of wild fungi to tempt our taste buds. St George’s mushrooms, smelling strongly of freshly milled flour, can sometimes be found in woodland and in more open grassland, often in large rings.

Morels come in many guises, large round ones such as Morchella rotunda or the more common morel, Morchella esculenta, and can often be found on light sandy soils on the edges of scrub or indeed in woodchip shrubberies outside large out of town shopping areas!

As always with picking wild foods, ‘if in doubt leave it out’, and only pick what you can use yourself.

Recipe for Spring 2014 Walk Blog

Spring Mushroom Risotto with Morels

serves 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 large or 6 – 8 small fresh morels, sliced and washed
  • Handful of dried mushrooms – morels for preference but others can be substituted
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or mashed in a little salt
  • 300g risotto rice, such as arborio
  • 1 x 175ml glass cider
  • 25g butter
  • A few chopped wild garlic leaves
  • 50g parmesan cheese, freshly grated

 

Method

  1. Put the dried mushrooms into a large bowl and pour over boiling water. Soak for 20 mins, drain into a bowl, discarding the last few tbsp of liquid left in the bowl as this is often gritty. Crumble the stock cube into the mushroom liquid then squeeze the mushrooms gently to remove any liquid. Chop the mushrooms.

  2. Heat the oil in a shallow saucepan or deep frying pan over a medium flame. Add the onions and garlic then fry for about 5 mins until soft. Stir in the fresh and dried mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for a few minutes until the fresh mushrooms have softened slightly.

  3. Tip the rice into the pan, stir and cook for 1 min. Pour over the cider and let it bubble to nothing so the alcohol evaporates. Keep the pan over a medium heat and pour in a quarter of the mushroom stock. Simmer the rice, stirring often, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Add about the same amount of stock again and continue to simmer and stir - it should start to become creamy, plump and tender. By the time the final quarter of stock is added, the rice should be almost cooked.

  4. Continue stirring until the rice is cooked. If the rice is still undercooked when the mixture is getting dry, add a splash of water. Take the pan off the heat, add the butter and scatter over half the cheese and the parsley. Cover and leave for a few mins so that the rice can take up any excess liquid as it cools a bit. Give the risotto a final stir, spoon into bowls and scatter with the remaining cheese and wild garlic.

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