“Nut roast is the vegetarian’s turkey; some crave something different but for others it’s not Christmas without one. This one is different: it has a mushroom risotto base and sticky cranberries on top, a bit like a savoury upside-down cake. ”
Make the risotto base first. Soak the dried porcini in a little boiling water. Trim and finely chop the celery, and peel and finely chop the onions and garlic.
Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pan over a low heat. Add the celery and onion, and cook for 10 minutes, until soft and sweet. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
Turn up the heat and add the rice. Cook for a minute or so until you hear it snap, crackle and pop, then add the wine and stir until absorbed.
Drain the porcini, sieve and discard any grit from the liquid and add to the risotto pan, stirring until absorbed. Finely chop the porcini and add to the pan.
Add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring each one in until it has been completely absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir as much as you can – this is what will make it creamy. Once the rice is al dente (when you break into a grain, it should be almost cooked through but still have a white fleck in the middle), transfer to a bowl to cool.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375°F/gas 5.
Fry the wild mushrooms in a little oil over a medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until they are just starting to crisp.
Toast, then bash the nuts into coarse pieces, or quickly pulse in a food processor.
Coarsely grate the Cheddar, finely chop the chilli and finely grate the lemon zest. Pick and roughly chop all the herb leaves. In a small bowl, beat the eggs.
Once the risotto has cooled, add the breadcrumbs, Cheddar, chilli, lemon zest, eggs and chopped herbs, season, and mix well.
Butter a 20cm loaf tin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper. Cook the sugar and the cranberries in a pan over a medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then tip into the tin and spread evenly. Pile on the nut-roast mixture and pack it down with the back of a spoon.
Cover the whole thing with foil and bake for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for a further 15 minutes. Once it’s golden brown on top, remove the nut roast from the oven and leave to settle for 10 minutes.
Use a knife to loosen the tin, then place your serving platter or board on top. Cover your hand with a tea towel and courageously flip the whole lot over, then carefully lift the tin off. Serve with all the trimmings.