Monday, December 27, 2010

Wild Mushroom Risotto

My dear, dear friend visited from LA recently. I hadn't seen her since her wedding last December so I was super excited to have her all to myself for the weekend! Eager to show her my new life in SF I asked what she wanted to do for the weekend and her response was simply, "Let's cook together!"

During one of her visits to Chicago last year, we randomly attended a cooking class at my beloved foodie haven, Fox & Obel, where we learned how to make risotto. It was only appropriate to make risotto together this time around, and a wild mushroom risotto sounded delightful to both of us. We did some urban foraging for mushrooms at Whole Foods for hen of the woods, shiitake, and crimini mushrooms. As we cooked, we sipped wine and snacked on a delightful spread of cheeses, olives, and amazing sourdough that she thoughtfully brought.

I have been wanting to use vermouth in risotto for a while and was excited to try a new recipe using it. We sauteed the mushrooms in butter until tender, cooked the arborio rice with sauted leeks, white wine, and vermouth, slowly stirred in about 5 cups of vegetable broth until absorbed, and finished off by incorporating freshly grated parmesan. It was probably the creamiest, ooziest risotto I have ever had and we even cut the butter in half from the original recipe!

The flavor and high quality of the mushrooms really stood out in this dish; I didn't want to mask the flavor with herbs. If you use less woodsy mushrooms, I would recommend cooking the mushrooms with a bit of thyme to round of the flavor.

Wild Mushroom Risotto (barely adapted from Bon Appétit)
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 pounds fresh wild mushrooms (such as hen of the woods, shiitake, chanterelle, porcini, cremini); large mushrooms sliced, small mushrooms halved or quartered
7 cups vegetable broth (I ended up using about 5.5 cups)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup finely chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
1 1/4 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup dry white vermouth
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
sea salt 

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 of the mushrooms and sprinkle with salt and season lightly with pepper. Sauté mushrooms until tender and beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to medium bowel. Working in 3 more batches, repeat with 3 tbsp of butter, remaining mushrooms, and salt and pepper. Meanwhile bring the vegetable broth to simmer in medium saucepan, keeping warm. In a heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt remaining 1 tbsp of butter and olive oil. Add leek, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until tender, 4-5 minutes. Add rice and increase heat to medium. Stir until edges of rice begin to look translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add white win and vermouth, stirring until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup warm vegetable broth, stir until almost all broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth by 3/4 cupfuls, stirring until almost all broth is absorbed before adding more, until rice is halfway cooked, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in sauteed mushrooms. Continue adding broth by 3/4 cupfuls, stirring until almost all broth is absorbed before adding more, until rice is tender but still firm to bite and risotto is creamy, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup grated parmesan. Transfer to serving bowl. Pass additional parmesan alongside, if desired. 

Eat it immediately!

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