1. Pull the stems out of all the mushrooms and wash the stems, if necessary. In a large sauce pan, fry the stems in olive oil until thoroughly browned. Roughly chop the onion, carrots and celery, and put them in with the stems. Cook the vegetables until they're starting to brown, stirring constantly. Cover everything in water and simmer for about two hours. Strain, discard the solids, and season the stock with salt (and/or MSG) to taste.

  2. Slice the mushroom caps into big chunks. Finely chop the shallots and garlic. In a wide pan, start heating a big knob of butter and a glug of olive oil. Put in the mushrooms and sauté until most of their water has come out and evaporated and the mushrooms are thoroughly browned.

  3. Push the mushrooms to the rim of the pan and dump the shallots in the center. Stir and fry the shallots for a moment, then dump in the garlic and stir to combine everything in the pan. Make another well in the center of the pan then dump in the rice. Stir the rice and let it brown for a moment, then stir to combine everything in the pan.

  4. If using cognac or wine, deglaze with a big splash of it now. If not, deglaze with water/stock and put in a little glug of balsamic vinegar. Then add enough stock to more than cover the rice, and let it simmer aggressively until absorbed, stirring occasionally.

  5. Then start adding additional stock in small doses and stirring constantly until the rice is almost cooked (which you should test by tasting). If you run out of your mushroom stock, just use water. When the rice is almost cooked, turn the heat off and stir in a big knob of butter and a big pile of grated cheese (or vegan sour cream instead of butter and cheese), and black pepper and additional salt to taste.

  6. Serve and top with fresh chopped chives.