We have an abundance of forests, woods and meadows in Slovakia that are not only a home to flowers, berries, bears, wolves and other wildlife, but they also fill with a great variety of mushrooms every year. It’s fair to say that Slovakia is a mushroom paradise. Mushroom picking has become a national sport, so there’s only few people (like me) who don’t practise.
Although wild mushrooms grow in our countryside all year round, the picking season almost invariably peaks around June/July, and then again in October. True, some years are better than others, but you will always find fleshy chanterelles, slippery jacks, or gourmet porcini around this time of year.
Our cuisine is full of recipes using wild mushrooms. If you want to try the one below, you can, of course, replace wild mushrooms with the common supermarket type, but the rich earthy flavours and a specific aroma will be missing from the dish.
Wild Mushroom & Tomato Risotto
- 200 g rice
- 200 g wild mushrooms
- 1 medium size onion
- 4 small tomatoes
- 100 g Encián or Camembert style cheese
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 – 2 tablespoons oil or butter
- chives to top
- Clean the mushrooms with a soft brush or your finger. If this doesn’t remove all the forest debris, rinse the mushrooms quickly under running water. Don’t soak them, as the caps absorb the water readily, which dulls their flavour and characteristic aroma.
- Trim off the stem bottoms and slice the mushrooms. Place the rice on a fine-mesh sieve and wash under running water. Let drain. Peel and chop the onion. Wash and slice the tomatoes. Rinse the chives.
- Put a wide heavy-bottom pan over a low heat and throw in the sliced muhrooms. Add a pinch of salt and stir. Dry-roast the mushrooms for about 5 minutes, or until they release the remaining moisture. Add the oil or butter, increase the heat to medium, and sauté the mushrooms until slightly brown. Stir now and then to prevent burning.
- Throw in the chopped onion and the rice. Season with ground black pepper and roast for a few minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the sliced tomatoes and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
- Pour in as much water as to cover the rice. Stir and cover with a lid. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the water.
- Meanwhile, slice or dice the cheese. Add it to the rice when it is cooked to the right tenderness. Stir to spread the cheese all around the rice.
- Serve hot with the chopped chives sprinkled over the top.