I love mushrooms. I have dreams of someday learning to forage for them myself, but for now, they are hard enough to find in the grocery store. After visiting a few places, I finally was able to pick up a few chanterelle (orange ones above), oyster, shitake and portobello mushrooms.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium, an important cancer-fighting agent, and edible varieties can be found anywhere during certain times of the year. Distinguishing between safe and poisonous mushrooms requires a trained eye, so I would suggest working with an expert before attempting on your own. Search for a local mycological society; they frequently have events and meetings open to the public that can help you on your quest for wild mushrooms.
A quick google search also suggests that mushroom growing kits are available for purchase. I have not tried this myself but have heard that this is a great way to have a continual crop of shitake, portobello, or other mushroom varieties right in your home.
I decided to make a risotto with my mushrooms. My recipe below is adapted from this one published in the October 2010 Bon Appétit. Note that this recipe calls for a kind of ridiculous amount of butter. If you’re looking for something a bit lighter, try substituting olive oil.
1-2 pounds mushrooms. I used a mixture of chanterelle, shitake, portobello and oyster
1 medium/large leek, white and pale green portions finely chopped
1.25 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
~7 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup grated parmesan
A lot of butter (about one stick)
A bit of olive oil (about one tablespoon)
Carefully wash the mushrooms using a damp towel — otherwise they can become waterlogged. Mushrooms cook best when not crowded by anything else, so the first thing you want to do is saute them in 2-3 batches with salt and pepper and set aside in a bowl. The BA recipe recommends about 2T butter for each batch you saute, and that was about right for me as well.
While the mushrooms are cooking, heat up the stock on a separate burner and keep it warm.
In a large pot, heat more butter and olive oil, and gently saute the chopped leek until translucent and tender.
Add the rice and increase the heat. Stir until edges start to look translucent.
Add the 1/2 cup of wine, and stir until fully absorbed.
Begin to add vegetable stock gradually, in about 3/4 cup increments. Stir until stock is absorbed by rice, and then add another 3/4 cup. Repeat this process.
When you’ve gone through about half of the stock, stir in the mushrooms.
Continue to gradually add the stock until absorbed. Keep stirring.