Ingredients

40g dried shiitake
1 litre chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 stalks rosemary
200g (1 cup) pearled farro, rinsed
125ml white wine
500g pumpkin, cut into bite-sized pieces
50g grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
2 duck breasts, room temperature
a small bunch sage
200g fresh shiitake mushrooms, halved if needed

I like to use both dried and fresh shiitake for bold flavour and interesting texture. Pearled farro cooks quickly so there is no need to soak it, but if you have whole farro you will need to soak it overnight. To achieve a crispy skin on the duck, it is best to take it out of its packaging and leave it to dry in the fridge for a couple of hours. When cooked, wrap the meat in foil to rest, leaving the skin uncovered. For a plant-based version, use vegetable stock and omit the duck breast; fried tofu brushed with soy sauce is a great addition.

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Instructions

1.Put the dried shiitake in a small bowl and just cover with hot water, then leave to soak for 15 minutes.
2.Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, then slice the shiitake, discarding the tough stems where necessary.
3.Measure the shiitake liquid and add enough stock to make up to 1 litre (keep the remaining chicken stock in case you need more during cooking). Bring the stock to the boil.
4.Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat.
5.Add the onion, bay leaf and rosemary with a sprinkle of salt and fry for 7 minutes.
6.Stir in the farro and fry for 3 minutes. Add the wine and bring to the boil.
7.Boil until it is almost evaporated then add the hot stock, dried shiitake and pumpkin and season with salt and pepper (if your stock is salty you will not need extra salt).
8.Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you have a thick risotto-like texture.
9.I like to crush a few of the bits of pumpkin with my wooden spoon to thicken up the risotto.
10.Remove from the heat, stir in the parmesan, cover then let it sit for 5 minutes.
11.While the risotto simmers, cook the duck, sage and fresh shiitake.
12.Score the skin of the duck breasts and rub in some salt.
13.Put the breasts skin-side down in a cold frying pan and heat to medium.
14.When the duck starts sizzling, cook for 10 minutes.
15.Turn over to sear the bottom for 30 seconds then place skin up on a roasting tray and cook in the oven at 180°C for 5 more minutes for medium rare.
16.Wrap the meat in foil leaving the skin uncovered and rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
17.Drain off most of the fat from the pan (keep it for roasting potatoes).
18.Cook the sage leaves in the rendered duck fat for 30 seconds then set aside on a paper towel.
19.Add the fresh shiitake to the duck fat and cook for 5 minutes.
20.Serve the risotto topped with slices of duck, fresh shiitake, sage leaves and grated parmesan.

Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Fiona Lascelles

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