Wild Mushroom & Marsala Risotto

This is a recipe for the world’s mildest rebellion.

Prepare to be bowled over; I discovered the benefits of exercising on a Friday night, rather than a Monday night.

I know, I know. But after a decade of hitting the bottle on a Friday night along with everyone else to start the process of exorcising the week away, I discovered that I became addicted to a strange sort of energy when I started hitting the gym (first) instead. I’d love to claim it was piousness of endorphins over poison, but it’s really that there is nothing comparable to intense exercise to wipe out the stress of profit, loss and politics. The necessity of drinking as much as possible as quickly as possible just wasn’t cutting it. It might seem baffling that anyone would ever feel like not drinking is considered rebellious, but let me put it in context: I still work in an industry where it’s considered fine to say, “if I can’t have a drink with them I won’t hire them” and “I don’t trust people that don’t drink” and Friday beers at 3pm in the office are considered essential work “culture”. 

So I’m printing a tshirt as we speak with my new slogan “exercise before exorcise”, and celebrating that drinking in this marvellous world where everyone else in the pub whilst I sneak off to the (blessedly quiet) pool to pretend to be a shark for an hour becomes a choice not a necessity. And maybe I will join up with the party (it’s only 10pm after all), but first food:

 

Wild Mushroom and Marsala Risotto

It turns out, I didn’t write down the recipe. So, here’s what I think happened:

  • Heat up 500ml of chicken stock in a pan with a lid on until simmering (as this was my most successful risotto to date, I’m claiming it was because I used “hot stock”).
  • Soak a handful of dried wild mushrooms in hot water (what I really want is some fresh Scottish girolles, what I had were dried porcini and other unidenti-dried wild mushrooms). (Update: I also made this with trompette de la mort (fresh) mushrooms. Very excellent, but obviously no mushroom juice – so I used extra marsala).
  • Heat some oil and butter gently, and cook some chopped onions and garlic until soft (low and with lid). Rinse the mushrooms, add them to the onions. Hedge your bets and keep the mushroom soaking juice (although strain through a muslin if it’s weirdly gritty like mine was) to add later.
  • Add around 100g arborio rice and stir to coat in the fat. Then add the (dry) marsala. I probably used a “large splash” (no idea, add to taste I guess). Stir until absorbed.
  • Add the hot stock to the rice, a ladleful at a time, and stir until absorbed.
  • By the time the stock is all absorbed, the rice should be cooked (soft and with all the gluten stirred into creamy submission). If the rice needs more liquid, or you demand more soupiness, you have two choices: a) the mushroom juice, or b) more marsala. Both are excellent options.
  • When you are satisfied with your rice to soup ratio, melt in a handful of grated parmesan, and a handful of chopped parsley (or any of the wood herbs; sage, thyme, rosemary). Then, eat.

And for dessert, figs and fizz.

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Also published on Medium.