This recipe is about making marriages happy. You see, I hate mushrooms. My wife hates rice. So obviously, a dish that is made mostly of mushrooms and rice is bound to make nobody happy in our home, right? Well that's what I thought too. So I waited until Thanksgiving to make this so we could pawn the leftovers off onto our friends once the missus and I agreed that it was not our cup of culinary tea. But then something beautiful happened: I found a mushroom dish I love and she agrees that this is the first time she's ever savored a rice dish. The key, obviously, is a lot of butter, bringing out complementary flavors with thyme and sherry, and (possibly) the several cocktails we drank before dinner. But in the end, we kept 100 percent of the leftovers and voraciously wolfed them down over the next few days, while our friends were sent home with mushy potatoes and overly crumbly stuffing. We won.
So you don't actually have to use wild mushrooms--store-bought will do just fine too. Either way, mixing it up with a couple different varieties will definitely add complexity. I also just added 12 ounces because I was afraid of this dish being too mushroom-ee. But even speaking as somebody who normally steers clear of fungi, this could have certainly been increased. And if you love mushrooms, you could probably double the toadstool quotient and be quite happy.
I've read that Wisconsin wild rice is desirable because the growing and harvesting regulations are more controlled (and thus sustainable) there. Some folks even claim the rice tastes better. However, I have so far been unable to track down anything that was explicitly labeled as such here in Boulder. So I go with what's on hand. But certainly grab the real thing if you can.
Prep time: 2 cocktails
6 TBSP butter
1 medium leek, white portion only, rinsed well and chopped
12 ounces mixed fresh mushrooms, such as white button, shiitake, morel and wood ear, brushed clean, sliced
2 cups wild rice, rinsed and drained (use only wild rice, not a blend)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus additional for garnishing
8 sprigs fresh thyme
½ cup pine nuts
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2/3 cup dry cooking sherry, (do not use cream or sweet sherry)
Bring 8 cups water to a boil. Stir in rice, then reduce heat so liquid is just simmering. Cover and cook until rice grains puff up and the inner, lighter part is visible, about 40 minutes. Drain excess liquid from rice and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leek and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have released their liquid and are mushrooms are darkening and have mostly cooked all their moisture out and are sticking a little to the pan. Deglaze with sherry and add thyme. And cook the sherry almost completely off.
Now, to the mushroom mixture, add the wild rice, pine nuts, parsley, salt, pepper to taste. Cook for another minute or so.
Stir in thyme and pine nuts and garnish with some additional parsley, and transfer the pilaf to a warmed serving dish and serve immediately.