Rice, gone wild! Double wild! Mushroom madness! All this Thanksgiving recipe testing and eating has put me into a food-induced euphoria. Wild two times in one title is two too many wilds for one recipe, young lady! Bring your torches. Ban. This. Site. Hide your childrens’ eyes! With all this fungus among-us, it’s gettin’ crazy up in here.
I bought a gigantic bag of assorted dried local Colorado mushrooms at the farmers market this summer. We’re talking two freezer bags worth. There will not be a mushroom shortage for the foreseeable future in the Spoon With Me house, in case anybody was wondering. What does one do with so many dried mushrooms, you ask? You know that mouth-coating savory depth that can be hard to achieve in plant-based recipes? Think of them as a way to boost the umami factor, especially in vegetarian and vegan dishes. I love to grind them into powder to add savoriness to sauces gravies, and soups. In this recipe, I used the broth from rehydrating them as part of the cooking liquid for the rice. If you’re a full or part- time vegan or vegetarian, you need dried mushrooms in your arsenal if you want to up the ooooh mommy!
If you’ve never caramelized onions, don’t be intimidated. With a little time and patience, you will have transformed the humble onion into something sweet, rich and savory—the perfect complement to the mushrooms (the wild kind.). After tending to the onions, and coaxing them into buttery submission, you’ll add your mushrooms and season them up with herbs. In goes the mushroom broth. Wild rice has a reputation for being difficult to cook. However, with the right amount of liquid, cooking time and a tight lid to keep in all the moisture, about an hour later, you’ll have perfectly cooked, savory and tender wild rice.
I especially like this recipe at Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you or your vegetarian dinner guests are mushroom-crazed, you could even stuff this rice into the middle of a roasted portobello, and top with parmesan. Hold the phone, Bessie! Whaat???? On its own, this rices makes a healthy vegan and gluten-free side dish that’s savory, rich, and enjoyable for all. Thanksgiving gone wild! Woooooooo!
Wild Mushroom Wild Rice with Caramelized onions
- 2 cups dried wild mushrooms*
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large yellow onion halved and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 2 tablespoons water, broth or wine for deglazing
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme leaves, divided
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 cups wild rice blend
- 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
Soak the Mushrooms: Put the mushrooms in a medium heat proof bowl, and cover with 2 cups boiling water. Soak for 20-30 minutes while you caramelize the onion (see below). Remove the mushrooms from the bowl with a slotted spoon to a cutting board. Reserve the mushroom soaking liquid and set aside. Remove and discard the woody stems from the mushrooms. Finely chop the mushrooms and set aside.
Caramelize the onion: (here’s a great tutorial from The Kitchn on caramelizing onions). Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat (for best results, don’t use a nonstick pan). Add the onions, and stir to coat with the oil, sprinkle with salt, and spread them evenly in the bottom of the pan. Cover and cook for about 12 minutes to sweat the onions (release their liquid). Uncover, and continue to cook, checking the onions every 5-10 minutes, and scraping the brown syrupy bits that stick to the bottom of the pan with a firm spatula. Continue cooking the onions and scraping the pan for about 40 minutes, or until the onions look, smell, and taste caramelized. If the onions start to burn, add a bit of water or broth to deglaze. When the onions are caramelized, add the 2 tablespoons deglazing liquid and scrape up the remaining brown bits. Remove from the pan, set aside to cool, then finely chop.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the saucepan, and sauté the garlic for a minute. Add the chopped mushrooms, the chopped caramelized onions and 2 teaspoons thyme leaves to the pan. Season with a couple pinches salt and sauté for a few minutes.
Add vegetable broth to the mushroom soaking liquid to equal 4 cups. Add the broth, wild rice and 1 teaspoon salt to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from heat (keep lid on!) and let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork. If there is excess liquid, simmer uncovered for a few minutes to cook it off. If the rice is undercooked, add more broth, cover and simmer until it is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with the remaining thyme.
*A mix of any type of wild mushrooms–my mix contained shitaki, oyster, porcini and trumpet. Trader Joe’s sells a great mix of dried wild mushrooms in the fall and winter.