October 8, 2009

Earthy Mushroom Risotto

My first Autumn experience is beginning to set in. The weather is cooling down, the winds are picking up and the leaves are just beginning to turn a pale yellow-green. I suspect it'll be full blown orange and red around here by the month's end. That's pretty exciting stuff when you come from Southern California where the leaves just wither and die and there aren't any real seasons to speak of.

So in honor of the cooling weather I wanted to make something warm and hearty. Mushroom risotto would work. And, of course, the day I decided to make it the weather became unusually warm. But no worries, the risotto still tasted great and I just cranked up the AC and pretended it was cold outside. :)

This is a Tyler Florence recipe that I cut in half and adapted slightly. I sprinkled some of my French truffle salt over the finished product (instead of truffle oil) for some extra decadence. But it's just as earthy and delicious without the truffles. Also, it's crucial that you saute the mushrooms in batches so they actually brown and not steam. Depending on how large your pot/pan is, you might have to do several batches. There should only be enough mushrooms in the pot to make one single layer at a time.

Earthy Mushroom Risotto

(serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side)

3.5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
0.5 onion, diced, divided
1 clove garlic, minced, divided
6-8 ounces fresh portobello mushroom (or any other mushrooms)
1 bay leaf
0.5 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped)
0.5 tsp dried parsley (or 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped)
1 tbsp butter
salt & pepper
4-5 dried shitake mushrooms (or porcini)*
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Bring chicken stock to a boil in a separate saucepan. Turn off heat. Add dried mushrooms to the broth to reconstitute. Cover with lid to keep warm.
  • In large pot or skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Saute 1/4 cup onions and 1/2 clove minced garlic until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, herbs (except the bay leaf) and butter. Saute 3-5 minutes until mushrooms are lightly browned. (You may have to do this in several batches). Season with salt & pepper.
  • Remove dried mushrooms from stock and chop into pieces. Add to the rest of the mushrooms and saute 1 more minute. Remove mushrooms from the pot and set aside.
  • Re-coat pot with remaining 1 tbsp olive oil. Saute remaining 1/4 cup onions and 1/2 clove minced garlic until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice and quickly stir to coat well in oil. Cook until opaque, about 1 minute. Pour in wine and stir until nearly all the wine has evaporated. Add the bay leaf.
  • Add 0.5 cup chicken stock to the rice and cook, stirring, until almost completely absorbed. Add remaining broth, 0.5 cup at a time, stirring, until almost completely absorbed before adding more stock. Continue adding stock and stirring rice until you have added all the chicken stock. The risotto should be slightly firm but not mushy.
  • Remove the bay leaf and discard. Add cooked mushrooms and Parmesan into rice and stir until cheese has melted, 1 minute. Top with truffle oil/salt (optional) and fresh chopped parsley before serving.
You could also try adding veggies to the mix. Try some peas or asparagus. Or just serve with a big side of salad for a more nutritious meal.

*if you don't have or can't find any dried shitake/porcini mushrooms, just leave them out and add more fresh mushrooms.

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