A casual conversation about the perils of mushroom foraging with a co worker earlier in the month left me with a real craving for the humble fungi. I love mushrooms, and they will soon star as Food Heroes in their own right, but I have to admit I’m too scaredy to attempt picking my own. I would no doubt get it wrong and end up with a terrible case of toxic intestinal shock and/or dead, not to mention hugely embarrassed. I prefer, for now, to stick to my greengrocers rather than tripping off with an empty basket to a local fungus filled forest.
The below recipe came forth from a glut of brown mushrooms on the cheap in M&S and a drizzly British summer day making me lean towards the comfort dinner.
For those who wonder, I use paella rice as I am notoriously unsuccessful with incorporating long grain rice into anything other than the kitchen bin. Also, I like the shorter, fatter rices and this dish would work equally well with arborio (risotto) rice too. If you insist on long grain check the fluid levels in the recipe as they may well need adjusting. Enough about the rice.
For similar curiosities, yes that is a tiny amount of chilli you want it there as barely a suggestion of warmth. This is an earthy comfort dish, you don’t want heat in there, ideally you wont even notice it.
Finally, use whatever mushrooms you like. I had a great result here with a mixture of brown/chestnut mushrooms and buttons, but you could use any really, and the more exotic varieties just add to the visual pleasure of a simple dish like this. Try cutting the different types to odd sizes for some texture but don’t go too chunky on your pieces.
Creamy Mushroom Rice
1 medium white onion
2 cloves garlic
1tbsp olive or sunflower oil
1/4 tsp chilli flakes or cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground corriander
300g of your favourite mushrooms
175g paella rice
500ml chicken stock
2 tbsp soft cheese such as philadelphia
Handful of finely chopped chives
6 slices of parma ham
You’ll need a wide pan at least a couple of inches deep with a lid and have your stock made up before you begin. Start off finely chopping the onions and garlic, fry these off in the olive oil with the spices. Cook on a medium heat so the onions become translucent but don’t start to brown. Add in your mushrooms, stirring gently for a couple of minutes- do not cook them completely.
Now throw in your paella rice and mix well into the other ingredients before adding your stock. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and cover.
Try to leave it alone for the most part- a little jiggle of the pan is more than acceptable but constant lid removal and stirring should be avoided. If you must, check after ten then twenty minutes to check that all the stock hasn’t gone (top up if needs be).
After 25 minutes your rice should be firm but cooked and more or less all of the liquid absorbed.
Take it off the heat and stir in the soft cheese and chives and black pepper to taste. Serve immediately with a little bundle of the parma ham.
Variations: This dish is easily vegetarianised by swapping the chicken stock for vegetable and leaving out the ham. You could instead swap the parma ham for one large, crisp fried portobello. Vegans can ditch the soft cheese for a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to finish, a smoked oil would be really lovely. Chives could be swapped for thyme or parsley as desired.