Mushroom risotto… With porcini chocolate! recipe.
Mushroom risotto is one of the most satisfying winter foods. Its silky texture and satisfying bite are only enhanced by the earthy umami of mushrooms, and in this twist on a classic recipe we take the umami a step further using our earthy-fruit Dak-Lak cacao infused with porcini and shiitake mushrooms.
Most of all for this winter, I wanted to write a blog post about the protein structure of chocolate - but after speaking with friends I learned this risotto recipe will be much more appreciated before the holiday season. I hope you make it and wow people at your holiday gathering!
Why did we make a Porcini & Shiitake chocolate bar?
Was it just an elaborate way to create a unique risotto ingredient?
While my biggest obsession is chocolate, it is part of a greater passion for food and the incredible experiences hidden inside these organic molecules, the incredible range of possibilities that the way we interact with flavour and aromas can offer.
In fact I feel so strongly about this range that I refuse to accept most limitations, often finding gems right on their boundaries. This is why Conspiracy likes to play games on the boundary between savoury and sweet.
Don’t forget, cacao IS a savoury food to begin with before sugar is added to it.
This approach made us test all kinds of strange combinations like beetroot & cumin chocolate bar, tahini & lemon ganache, and other tests which are still inside our R&D program.
It also gave us the all-time favourite Sichuan chocolate bar, and my favourite, the Miso & Pine Nut chocolate bar. This winter we also came out with a set of savoury bonbons which are some of the funkiest of Conspiracy’s work: Miso caramel, rosemary ganache, paprika ganache, and dan-dan noodles bonbon (peanut caramel layered with dark chocolate ganache with chilli, five spice, and sichuan peppercorn).
I have a huge affinity for mushrooms and fungus. In our R&D program we are still working on projects like a cognitive-functional mushroom chocolate bar and koji-inoculated dark chocolate.
After last year’s Miso & Pine Nut, Porcini & Shiitake dark chocolate is a recipe we’ve wanted to release for a long time, and we are incredibly proud that it's out in the world and received so well.
So no, it was not only an excuse to make a fancy risotto ingredient, but another exploration into the savoury side of chocolate. For those who like to challenge your pre-existing expectations over sweet vs savoury food, I highly recommend trying this.
Mushrooms and umami
Mushrooms are full of glutamic acid, which while contributes to umami, the amino acid (to be explained furtherin the next blog post post) does not bring a strong flavour alone. Enzymatic activity between 40-70ºc converts it to glutamate, which is the main umami molecule. Meaning in dehydration mushrooms develop a strong umami flavour.
When mushrooms are cooked, their umami is enhanced one step further due to a chemical reaction (which takes place within the malliard reaction around 140ºc) that converts this glutamate into guanylate and inosinate. This conversion increases the overall umami taste perception in the cooked mushrooms. Glutamate is also an amino acid, responsible for the umami flavour, and the conversion to guanylate and inosinate compounds further contributes to the savoury taste by the way they stack in our glutamate receptors. These compounds act as flavour enhancers and provide further umami of their own, intensifying the sensation in cooked mushrooms (and other foods).
By incorporating some of our chocolate and its porcini and shiitake who've spent more time in the enzymatic activity range before cooking, you'll be adding an intense and satisfying layer of umami that you would not get from cooking raw mushrooms straight.
Beside this, the earthy-fruity notes and the tannins from Dak Lak's cacao will both enhane the yummy mushroom aromas, and balance out some of the fatty mouthfeel of the rest of the dish. On top of this the harmoneous flavour together with chocolate will add some serious winter vibes do your dish.
For comparison consider MSG, famously known as a magic-delicious ingredient, is just glutamate together with a single sodium atom that is only there to make the glutamate's flavour "louder".
In short, when you cook, or roast/dehydrate mushrooms, you enhance their umami flavour very much, making them incredibly attractive to humans (the main species I cook for).
Humans evolved to detect and enjoy the flavour of glutamate as it is often the result of cooking or fermentation, means of making food safe for humans, we are designed to enjoy it as means of keeping us safe.
This is the reason classical cuisine is such a big fan of duxelle, or finely chopped mushrooms that have been cooked and browned. This is also the reason we use mushrooms in many meat alternatives, the reason roasted mushroom powder is added to dishes that need a punch of umami, and why we all love grilled or yakitori mushrooms and mushroom burgers.
This is also the principle that makes our Porcini & Shiitake chocolate bar so delicious.
Now when it comes to risotto, to make any starchy carb delicious, the secret is always in umami, texture, and using fat to layer in flavours and aromas. This risotto recipe answers all of these AND adds chocolate… We are basically programmed to like it. Make this and impress your friends, family, date, secret lover, or in a pinch it’ll work even on your sworn enemy.
This is an excellent classic mushroom risotto recipe, with porcini chocolate on top, the work of chef Andre Lafontaine Bedecarratz, who heads Conspiracy’s production and previously cooked in some of the world’s top restaurants.
300 grams Arborio (risotto) rice
500 grams mixed mushrooms (button, cremini, shiitake, etc.), sliced.
100 grams onion, finely chopped
20 grams butter
30 grams olive oil
900 ml mushroom or chicken stock (kept warm on the stove as you start cooking the rice) - mushroom stock recipe below this one.
100 grams grated Parmesan cheese.
100 grams dry white wine
20 grams porcini mushroom chocolate
In a large pot heat the olive oil and add the rice, constantly stirring, cook it until the outside goes white.
Add the onions and cook further until they are translucent.
Add 2/3 of white wine and stir it with the rice until it is dry.
In a separate pan, on medium high heat add the sliced mushrooms and brown them. Once they are brown deglaze the pan with the white wine and set aside.
Once the rice is white, add 1/3 rd of the stock, stir for a bit in medium heat, and wait till the liquid is all absorbed.
Add one more third of the stock, and add the mushrooms you set aside, and now constantly stir the rice to release starches and start getting to the right consistency.
From this point forward add stock small amounts at a time, about 60 ml, or one lade at a time.
The rice might need a bit more stock or a bit less, so from this point on, taste the rice every few minutes to make sure it cooked properly (a small bite in the middle, similar to al dente pasta, and soft outside)
Add the grated parmesan and mix thoroughly, then add the butter.
Add a little bit of stock, if necessary, the risotto should be thick but still make light waves/ripples when moved.
Spoon the risotto in the middle of a warm plate, tap the plate on the palm of your hand to flatten the risotto, and grate porcini mushroom chocolate on top as a garnish.
Optional, if you’d like to make your own mushroom stock,
500 button mushrooms (food processor or rough chop)
300 g wood ear mushrooms (food processor or rough chop)
50 Dried shiitake (rehydrate)
1 bunch Thyme
150 cup white wine
It’s a very simple recipe,
Sweat the white onions until translucent, add the white wine and reduce by half.
Add all the mushrooms and cover them with water and bring to a simmer, cook for 1 hour. Add a bit more water to make sure it is all properly submerged, then cook for another 30 minutes. Add the Thyme and cook for another 10 minutes and then strain clean, this should give you 1-1.5 L of stock