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Have you noticed how quickly all the food on this blog has turned its colors for fall? I didn’t until I started editing photos for this post, but now I’ve looked back and see that all I’ve posted in the last few days is orange, red, yellow, and brown.

Bring it on if it means more food like this. I’d never made mushroom risotto before, but it seemed a shame to do anything else with these glorious chanterelles, black chanterelles, and criminis. I wanted something that would really showcase the earthy flavors while backing them up with something more substantial.

Risotto, good risotto, takes dedication. Dedication to standing in front of your stove, stirring and stirring, for at least half an hour to release the starches for that creamy base. Dedication to tasting many crunchy, underdone pieces of rice until one gives under your teeth white that perfect al dente texture. Dedication to possibly wasting a cup or two of broth if your rice doesn’t need it that day.

But in the end, you’re rewarded with a big bowl of plump grains suffused with the flavors of the mushrooms, and with a creamy mouthful without adding a drop of cream.

Mushroom risotto

Makes about 6 servings.

Ingredients
6 cups chicken broth or stock
2-3 cups, loosely packed, of a variety of mushrooms (chanterelle, maitake, black trumpet, crimini, porcini, etc.)
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for garnish)
salt and pepper to taste
chopped parsley for garnish

Directions

Warm the chicken broth in a saucepan over low heat.

Clean and trim the mushrooms. Remove the stalks from any capped mushrooms that you have and toss them into the stock to infuse the broth. Slice any capped mushrooms and cut the rest of the mushrooms in halves or quarters, into 1/2″-1″ pieces.

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until browned, 3-5 minutes, being sure not to crowd the pan. Salt and pepper the mushrooms to taste. Remove 1/3-1/2 of the cooked mushrooms to a plate to garnish the risotto once it’s done cooking.

Lower heat to medium-low and add the rest of the butter and the minced shallot. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the rice to the pot and stir, coating each grain with butter and oil and impregnating each grain with the fats. When the rice starts to look translucent, add the white wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine is fully absorbed.

Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup of broth and continue to cook, still stirring, until this installment of broth is also absorbed. Continue adding broth and stirring until the rice is al dente. Start tasting the rice when about 2/3 of the broth has been added; depending on the season, how long the rice has been on the shelf, the moisture level at which it’s been stored, etc., the rice may need all of the broth to cook, or up to 1 cup less. This process should take 20-30 minutes.

When the risotto is the desired texture, remove it from the heat and stir in the parmesan. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.

Warm the reserved mushrooms in a small skillet over low heat. Serve the risotto in bowls with extra grated parmesan, the reserved mushrooms, and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

Notes

Risotto must be served immediately after it is done cooking to retain its toothsome texture. If you have leftovers, save them in the fridge and make arancini the next day — recipe coming soon!

Music to cook by: Soft Skin [Mountain Man // Made The Harbor]

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