Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mushroom Risotto

Last night my sister-in-law chided me for the lack of a recent blog post, admitting she only signed up on Google's blogroll to follow my blog(s) and therefore keep up with how I (and Seth) are doing. I was touched, but could only think of the most pitiful excuses to explain the lack of posts: "I was packing and arranging things in Maryland"; "Seth and I have driven 2500 miles in a moving van over the past week"; "Moving van."

Really, no excuse at all, considering I do have a Jetboil and over the weekend we picked up Seth's camping stove. However, before the torture of driving (for a week) in the most uncomfortable of automobiles (I'd actually prefer a matatu over that Budget truck) I did manage to make a large saucepan of simple, creamy mushroom risotto, simultaneously satisfying my joy of cooking with wine (how I've missed it) and proving that I now truly dig mushrooms.

I know mushroom risotto is not the type of thing one would expect to see in a blog that aspires to explore Middle Eastern and Indian cooking, but seriously, sometimes you have to go with what you know. And considering the addictive cooked salsa my father-in-law made over the weekend (how can a salsa with bacon be anything other than amazing?) and the 50 pounds of grapefruit the in-laws gave us (fresh from the Rio Grande Valley), I see my recipes remaining within these 48 contiguous states for the foreseeable future.

Let me add a caveat: I do not claim to be a risotto expert and, hey, you can find risotto recipes every time you turn around, but did I mention you cook this with wine? If you have not been able to do that for a couple of years you can't imagine how giddy it will make you. Because you only use 1 cup and then you have the whole bottle to store for later . . . or finish off howsoever you choose. I, of course, do not judge.

Mushroom Risotto
partly America's Test Kitchen, partly Masterchef Australia, partly me

4cups beef broth (or vegetable - or mushroom - if you prefer)
2cups water
2cups Arborio rice
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4tbsp olive oil
4tbsp butter
1cup white wine
6oz white mushrooms, thickly sliced (I remove the stems, but you don't have to)
6oz criminis, thickly sliced (same thing about stems here)
2oz shiitakes, sliced (I had fresh, but reconstituted dried ones would also work, plus you could add the liquid to the rice for extra flavor)
1/2tsp dried thyme or 1tsp fresh
2oz grated Parmesan cheese (though you can always add more)
1tbsp butter, optional
salt & pepper, to taste

1. Combine broth and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Keep mixture at this heat level or slightly below while cooking rice.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons butter until butter melts and mixture is hot. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds, then add rice. Cook rice until edges are translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add wine and cook until completely absorbed, stirring occasionally.

3. At this point you begin to add the broth. America's Test Kitchen suggest adding half of the liquid all at once; after the rice has completely absorbed that amount (not forgetting to stir regularly), then begin adding the remaining in small (1/2 cup) quantities. I go the traditional route and add the broth mixture 1/2 cup at a time, stirring regularly after each addition. Regardless of which process you choose, do not add more liquid until the previous addition is absorbed into the rice and remember to stir, stir, stir.

4. While rice is cooking, using medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons butter in another saucepan until butter is melted. Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms reduce in size by about half, 12-15 minutes. Stir in thyme and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

5. When rice reaches al dente stage (just done and slightly chewy) add mushrooms and adjust seasoning. (You may have some broth mixture remaining, but as long as the rice is ready it is no problem.) Stir in Parmesan cheese and, for a slightly richer dish, a tablespoon of butter. Serve with that leftover wine and enjoy.

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