Bismarck hates mushrooms, so whenever he is away for the evening, I indulge. Bingeing on them in a variety of different favourite recipes. Yes, ok, I admit, I also feed him mushrooms sometimes as well. I can’t resist putting some oyster and shitake mushrooms into a noodle broth with bok choy, sprouts and prawns. Or adding white button mushrooms to beef pie, or throwing a few oversized portabellas on the bbq. Bismarck picks them out, leaving more for the rest of us to enjoy. No1 also doesn’t like them, and follows his father’s lead on dealing with those cursed mushroom that occasionally infiltrate his meals.
Recently the poor soul (oh my God, the trials of corporate life) was forced to attend a dinner at Sydney’s Town Hall. He was fed a gorgeous meal, ‘required’ to drink plentiful amounts of excellent wine, and talk road engineering all night with a room full of other engineers. One of the benefits, he says, about most of the engineers who go to conferences (and conference dinners) is that they are old and have therefore acquired a taste for good wine. So there is always plenty of good wine at these dinners. And yes, the reputation that engineers gain while at university as big drinkers, still holds when they are old(er). Such a trial, I say to him, and he quips “Well, they probably won’t be playing the organ for us”. Two hours later, I receive a text: They are playing the organ. It’s so amazing.
I’m torn between rolling my eyes; and being excited that he gets this experience. At least the children were well-behaved that evening, doing their lists, eating the mushroom risotto, and going to bed without fuss. And, of course, it’s not like my job doesn’t have perks. Only a month ago, I spent two days at the Inglis Easter Yearling sales, eating gorgeous food, talking about horses, looking at horses and generally having a lovely time “networking” aka socialising. And of course, there was the Bill Whittaker Book Award lunch only a few weeks ago; an enjoyable afternoon out with various misfits from the racing industry discussing racing books.
After musing on the perks that I enjoy at work, I can find it in me to enjoy his experience with the Town Hall organ. Also, we got to eat mushrooms as the core ingredient for a meal, rather than as a side dish, or added in a fashion that allows them to be picked out by the anti-mushroom faction. One of the joys about this recipe is that it is easy to cook, No2 helped with this one, and it is filling for those pre-teen boys who are always starving. Yes, the cliché about hollow legs is an old one. It seems true in this house, and I’ve started carb-loading all my meals for their sake. Extra bowls of rice and pasta are placed on the table with each meal, for the growing lads to gobble down and fuel their insatiable hunger. This meal, with all the rice, is perfect for their needs.
Even No1, a fully cashed up member of the anti-mushroom gang, ate most of this meal. The mushroom lovers; that’d be me, No2, No3 and No4; outweigh the anti-mushroom faction numerically. By rights, we should cook this more often.
Autumn Mushroom Risotto
- 1kg of mushrooms (we used a mix of shiitake, brown, white buttons and oyster mushrooms)
- Garlic (I used a whole bulb, but you can cut back if you don’t like garlic)
- 60g butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Handful of Rocket/Spinach
- Half a cauliflower cut into small pieces (optional)
- 1 egg per person
- 2 cups rice
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 1 cup white wine
- Parsley to decorate
Cut up the onion and garlic, add to large pan with olive oil and cook over a low heat until soft. While this cooks, slice up the mushrooms. Add the butter to the pan, and throw in the mushrooms. Stir until they are softened. Add the wine, then chicken stock and bring to boil. Optional: add cauliflower at this point for extra vegetables.
Add the rice and turn down to low.
There are two schools of thought here; one group says stir the rice, as it brings out the starch and makes the dish creamier; the other says leave it alone. It’s up to you. I mostly left it alone, because there is so many other things to do while food is cooking – kids to be wrangled, etc. I did get No2 to stir it occasionally to stop it sticking (although this shouldn’t matter until the end if you have enough liquid).
It should take about 20 minutes on a low simmer for the rice to absorb all the liquid. At this point, stir through the rocket or spinach to add some greens to the mix.
In a separate pot, poach the eggs (one per person). See Scott’s how to guide for details.
Serve the risotto with a poached egg on top. Decorate with parsley, and perhaps a dash of salt and cracked pepper.