One of the ideas that I was contemplating for my Valentines day meal was a mushroom risotto and although I did not go with it, it has been stuck in my mind and I just had to make it. Risotto is an Italian rice dish that is cooked with ingredients and technique designed to produce an extremely creamy bowl of down right comfort food. Although the technique is not difficult, it does require some time as you add the liquids half a cup by half a cup while stirring constantly. This means that you are going to be at the stove actively doing something for about a half an hour, but the final result is so worth it. The very fact that this dish takes some effort makes it perfect for special occasions where you want to show that you care.
Risotto is primarily about the rice and to get that nice and creamy finish you want a higher starch rice. Medium and short grained rice generally have a higher starch content and some of the favoured rices include arborio and carnaroli. For this mushroom risotto I wanted to really enjoy the mushrooms so I started with some dried porcini mushrooms as dried mushrooms pack a ton of flavour. Next I sauteed some wild mushrooms including cremini, shiitake and oyster which I cut into large slices so that I would be able to enjoy their texture. Next up was a homemade chicken stock for even more flavour and the whole thing was finished off with some good quality parmigiano reggiano.
One thing that I did not mention yet is that the first liquid that you add to a risotto is an alcohol and it is commonly a wine. The wine can be white or red and it really just depends on the flavours in the risotto and your tastes. I figured that a nice bright and fruity chardonnay would go perfectly with the mushroom risotto to complement and cut through its creaminess. Once you have cracked open that bottle of wine for use in the risotto, the next half an hour while you are cooking and stirring the risotto is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a glass.
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup chicken stock (boiling)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion (diced)
- 8 ounces mushrooms (sliced, I used a mix of cremini, shiitake and oyster)
- 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon thyme (chopped)
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock (or vegetable, warm)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon truffle oil (optional)
- 1 handful parsley (optional)
- Cover the dried porcini mushrooms in the stock and let sit for 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the fresh mushrooms and saute until they turn tender and release their moisture, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
- By this time the dried mushrooms should be nice and soft so remove them from the stock, squeezing to drain and reserve all of the liquid.
- Chop the reconstituted mushrooms and add them to the sauce pan.
- Add the rice and toast until it starts to turn translucent, about 1-3 minutes.
- Add the white wine, deglaze the bottom of the pan and cook while stirring until the wine has disappeared.
- Mix the stock that the mushrooms were soaked in with another cup of stock and add it to the sauce pan 1/2 cup at a time while stirring until it has disappeared.
- Add the butter and parmigiano reggiano and stir until it has melted.
- Season with salt and pepper and a touch of truffle oil.
- Serve garnished with parsley.