Morel Risotto (Vegetarian!)

four half-ounce packs of dried morels (or one pound fresh)
one half medium white onion, diced
fresh-ground black pepper
two cups vialone nano rice
fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
fresh basil, finely chopped
olive oil
one cup dry white wine
one cup grated parmigiano reggiano (plus more for grating on top)

Bring about four cups of water to a boil, turn off the heat, and put the dried morels in the pot. Cover and allow to steep and rehydrate for about a half hour, stirring occasionally to make sure the morels fully submerge. Strain out the liquid through a cheese cloth, bring up to about five cups total, salt to taste, cover, and bring to a simmer. This is the risotto broth.

Discard the cheese cloth, dump the morels in the strainer and rinse extremely well with cold water. This is really important, as the reconstituted morels will have gritty shitte in them that is disgusting if you don’t get rid of itte. Then, cut the morels into halves or thirds (depending on the size of each one), put back in the strainer, and continue to rinse extremely well with cold water to get every last but of gritty shitte outte.

Sautee the onion, thyme, and oregano (about one tablespoon of each) with fresh-ground black pepper until the onion is fully translucent.

Add the morels to the pan and continue to sautee until they have reduced in size and firmed up and cooked through to a proper texture.

Add the rice and continue to sautee, until the rice is fully coated with oil and is smelling nice and toasty.

Deglaze with the white wine, and cook until the alcohol is gone.

Cook in the usual way by ladling in the simmering morel broth and cooking with stirring. It is good to allow the rice to kind of cook onto the bottom of the pan and then scrape it off, as you proceed with the cooking. This breaks down some of the kernels and releases starch into the broth to thicken it up.

When the rice is not quite done, and still has a substantial crunchy bit in the center of each grain, turn off the heat, add another ladle of broth and the cheese, stir well to incorporate, and cover for five minutes to rest.

After it has rested, you can add another ladle or so of hot broth, if you want to loosen it up further, and salt to taste.

Plate, grate, sprinkle, and eat!


  1. says

    Yum! Though I gotta say that those morels look like little dried-up gnome scrotums.
    We used to make a similar risotto with dried porcini.

  2. says

    Also: caramelize some onions, add garlic at the end, and remove them from the pan. Get the pan hotte without cleaning itte, then add some olive oil and butter (a tablespoon total) and sear some venison (thick slices, salted and peppered in the pan, seared enough to still have the pieces rare). Take the venison out and let it rest on the warmed plates while you deglaze the pan with red wine. Reduce the wine and, at the last minute, throw in the morels. Pour over the venison.

    Serve w/ some barley with, say, cranberries and onions, and maybe some other veggie.

  3. says

    Looks good!! Went out on “Easter Sunday” with my brother-in-law for some mushroom hunting in southwest Illinois and got some good morels. Very tasty! Gonna have to file this away for reference when mushroom season comes around again.

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