Wild Mushroom Risotto and a Trip to Fred Treadway’s Mushroom Farm in Madison County, North Carolina
He also has some wild Turkey Tail Mushrooms that pop up in the Spring. You can pour boiling water over these to make tea and they do have some medicinal benefits. Fred also likes Blue Tree Mushrooms and Grey Doves (they will grow wild in October and November).
The Shiitake Mushrooms that Fred grows are sold primarily to one restaurant in Asheville and the rest he will use or sell at local Farmers’ Markets.
We had such a delightful visit with Fred and would like to thank him for taking the time to show us around his farm. It was fascinating and I understand why he has become one of the sources to go to when new farmers are interested in gaining knowledge on this topic. I would also like to thank David Kendall for putting me in touch with Fred. Mushroom farmers can be a bit elusive, so I was thankful that we were able to get to visit with one.
Well, as you might guess, I love mushrooms…all sorts of mushrooms. Some of them are very expensive mushrooms (Chanterelles, Truffles, Morels, etc.) and therefore, do not appear at our home on a regular basis. One of my favorite ways to prepare wild mushrooms is to sauté them with olive oil, butter, garlic, thyme and sherry. It is perfect to serve alongside a perfectly prepared steak.
You can also whip up a Morel Sauce to serve with a steak (now we’re talking sexy food). We had some beautiful photographs of these sautéed mushrooms, however, they have gone missing from our photography catalog become elusive just like the mushroom farmers!
My other favorite way of preparing wild mushrooms, especially this time of year when I want heartier, rich dishes is Wild Mushroom Risotto. This can be served alone as a main dish or you can prepare it as a side dish. The richness and complex flavors comes in part from Homemade Chicken Stock, so I suggest you do not skimp on that. Be sure to use a really good Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It is also critical to the success of the dish and the flavor is incomparable.
Risotto takes some time to stir to get the proper consistency, but when it is creamy and full of flavor, there is nothing more satisfying, especially on a cold winter’s night with a really nice bottle of red wine. We served ours with a lovely Brunello. I made my risotto with an equal amount of Yellow Foot Mushrooms, Shiitakes and Crimini Mushrooms. Any combination will do, but I would definitely suggest using some Shiitakes and Criminis because of their hearty texture.
Update on Fred Treadway – I just learned that he passed away on September 3, 2020. He was an amazing person to meet and an inspiration to many. I’m sure he will be greatly missed.
Wild Mushroom Risotto
Serves 3 as a Main Dish
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, bruised
1 pound fresh mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced (I used Yellow Foot, Shiitake and Criminis)
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup diced sweet onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla)
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine (I used a French Chablis)
4 cups homemade chicken stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Chopped chives or chopped Italian Parsley, as a garnish
Cover the bottom of a large skillet (12-inch) with approximately 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add garlic cloves and heat over medium heat until garlic is fragrant and oil is hot, but not smoking. Remove garlic cloves. Add mushrooms. Lightly season with Kosher salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat until mushrooms are just tender and lightly browned. Set aside.
To a risotto pan or medium saucepan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Heat over medium-high heat. Add onions, lightly season with salt. Cook until they are translucent, stirring frequently, about five minutes. Add rice and stir to coat with olive oil. Continue to stir and cook for about two minutes. Add white wine, stirring and cooking over medium to medium-high heat until wine is absorbed.
* You may need to adjust your heat during this process of adding liquids, depending on the type of pot and your heat source. You do not want the rice sticking as you cook it and the liquids absorb.
Add one cup of the chicken stock, stirring frequently, until the stock is absorbed. Repeat this process with the stock two more times. You will have one cup of stock left. This will take some time, so be patient. Add the last cup of stock and stir. Add reserved mushrooms and cook until rice is cooked, yet firm to the bite (al dente) and the mixture is creamy.
Remove from the heat and add the butter and cheese. Stir to combine. Check for seasonings.
Serve immediately, garnished with either chopped chives of parsley, if desired.