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VeganMoFo: Gordon Ramsay and Brown Rice Risotto with Portobello Mushrooms and Soy Blue Cheese

The “V” Word continues its celebration of VeganMoFo, the month of vegan food, with this year’s theme: “If TV Celebrity Chefs Went Vegan.” Most of the celebrity chefs I will pick are ones I like, some may be ones I don’t like but have something to say about. Today’s celebrity chef fits both categories.

Gordon Ramsay is the famous British chef. He is also an entrepreneur, restaurateur and TV star. He has so many television shows, both in Britain and in the U.S., it seems like he is everywhere: Hell’s Kitchen, The F Word, Kitchen Nightmares, Hotel Hell and my favorite, MasterChef. Ramsay has also written numerous cookbooks and has been awarded 13 Michelin stars.

More than his culinary and business acumen, Ramsay may be best known for his personality. He can be volatile, rude, profane and downright mean to people. Perhaps that behavior stems from the fact that he had a violent and abusive childhood at the hands of his alcoholic father (the shrink in me is always on duty). 

And Ramsay has a history of being no friend to vegetarians. He has often vocalized his distaste for vegetarians, believing they are missing out on fine food and saying they are not welcome in his restaurants. Ramsay has stated that he could not tolerate it if one of his daughters came home with a vegetarian boyfriend and he would never forgive them. His comments, including that he would “electrocute” his kids if they ever became vegetarian, sparked a feud between Ramsay and Sir Paul McCartney back in 2005. In that same year, Ramsay served ham to an unknowing vegetarian and confessed to the BBC that he has lied to vegetarian diners about the presence of chicken stock in his soup.

But there is another side to Ramsay that doesn’t make it onto the airwaves. On the second series of The F Word, Ramsay learned about pig farming practices including castration and tail docking. He said, “It’s enough to make anyone turn f*cking vegetarian, for G-d’s sake. And I’ve always sort of knocked vegetarians and vegans for missing out on the most amazing flavour you can get from meat. But you can see why so many people change instantly.” Indeed, Gordon, that’s what worked for me.

That experience must have stuck with him (though not enough to get him to stop cooking or eating animals) because on Season 3 of Hell’s Kitchen, Ramsay really laid into a contestant who put chicken stock into a diner’s vegetarian risotto. That scene was never aired but appears on the DVD of the show. She almost got eliminated for it. And on another of his shows, Ramsay adamantly stated that a restaurant chef must be prepared to serve all types of guests including vegetarians. 

Ramsay even appeared on Ellen and cooked a vegan stir-fry. Maybe it was bad luck, lack of concentration or maybe it was Karma but Ramsay cut his finger badly for the first time in 10 years.

The reason I said Gordon Ramsay falls into both categories for me is that I don’t like the loud, mean person he is on Hell’s Kitchen or that he can be in interviews. However, on MasterChef he is an amazing teacher and mentor. It’s like he is not even the same person. He is tough but he’s encouraging, friendly and personable. MasterChef is one of my favorite cooking shows.

Since Gordon Ramsay now understands and insists that a vegetarian risotto should NEVER have chicken broth in it, I thought I would go one further and make a vegan risotto. And in the spirit of breaking the rules, I made it with brown rice rather than arborio rice because brown rice is healthier and the only rice I use (if it’s white, it ain’t right). 

My risotto also has Portobello mushrooms and vegan blue cheese crumbles. It’s rich, creamy and full of flavor. The only thing missing from my risotto is the bloody chicken stock because the one thing vegan food never is, is bloody. Enjoy!

Brown Rice Risotto with Portobello Mushrooms and Soy Blue Cheese

8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

4 Portobello mushroom caps, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 scallions, finely chopped

2 cups short grain-brown rice

1 cup vegan white wine

4 oz. vegan blue cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley for garnish

Heat the vegetable stock or water in a sauce pan. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat. In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are browned. Add the onions and cook until soft and browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and scallions. Continue cooking for 1 minute. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl, cover and set aside.

Add the rice to the skillet and let the rice toast for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and let it reduce until it is almost evaporated. Add the simmering vegetable broth, about ½ cup at a time, stirring and cooking, until the liquid is almost completely absorbed by the rice. Continue until the rice is tender. This may take as long as 40 – 50 minutes for brown rice. Make sure you’re listening to some good music so you can sing along or reading a good book to make the time pass faster. Otherwise, you could go STIR-crazy! (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

When the rice is just al dente, add back the mushrooms. Cook for another 10 minutes, adding more broth or water as needed. The risotto should feel creamy but not mushy.

Crumble in the vegan blue cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve while hot.

The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it. 
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4 Responses to VeganMoFo: Gordon Ramsay and Brown Rice Risotto with Portobello Mushrooms and Soy Blue Cheese

  1. Rhea Parsons July 26, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    There are a lot of recipes online for vegan blue cheese that are basically tofu, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, tahini and nutritional yeast.

    I’m lazy so if I can I’d buy it. Sunergia makes it. Not a lot of stores carry it, certainly none near me but you can buy it online at Pangea

    And if you are ambitious and want to learn to make your own, check out the book “The Non-Dairy Formulary” by Skye Michael Conroy aka The Gentle Chef.

  2. Anne Seebaldt July 26, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    Where on earth do you get vegan blue cheese?

  3. Vanilla Rose October 5, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    I recall being in a supermarket queue and saw that Gordon R had provided a vegetarian recipe for it. The term “pantomime villain” came to mind. Although I suppose that was after several of the incidents you mention.

  4. RunCrissieRun October 4, 2012 at 4:46 am #

    I like your summary of Gordon Ramsey. I’ve watched Hell’s Kitchen the past few years and have always heard his negativity about vegans. I wish they had aired that episode you mentioned. It’s sad when a celebrity chef can’t appreciate the dietary differences in people and honor that in his/her offerings.

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