Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mushroom Risotto

At a conversation over dinner earlier in the week our friend Claudia was bemoaning the fact that risotto rather intimidated her, but she really liked it. So I suggested that while Madame and friends were playing tennis, she should come over and play in the kitchen and we would make dinner. That seemed like an excellent plan, so she came over and made a very good risotto. I have to admit it was rather nice having someone else doing all the work :-). This turned into some general instruction around chopping, sequence, ratios, and technique. All good.
The key ratio is the ratio of rice to liquid. Typically this is between 3 and 3 1/2 to 1. Hence 7 cups stock for the 2 cups of rice in the recipe below.
Ingredients (for 8 as a starter)
4 portabella mushrooms cut into small cubes.
2T butter
7 cups chicken stock (you may not use all of it, but make sure you have enough)
6T mixed dried mushrooms (optional)
2T olive oil
4 shallots, minced
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bunch Italian (flat leaf) parsley chopped finely
2T butter
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
In a 4 qt saucier melt the butter, and when melted add the chopped portabellas and cook gently over lowish heat until all the water has evaporated. Meanwhile put the chicken stock and dried mushrooms into a sauce pan and heat almost to boiling.
When the portabellas are cooked, transfer to a bowl and set aside. Rinse and dry the saucier. In the saucier heat the 2T olive oil until a piece of shallot just sizzles. This is nowhere near the smoke point. Add the shallots and turn the heat down to sweat the shallots. You want to avoid getting any color onto the shallots, but they want to be soft. Add the rice and turn the heat up a bit, toasting the rice. You want to see some very slight browning and a slight translucency. About 4 minutes. Make sure that you do stir the mixture to make sure it doesn't stick.
Once the rice is toasted, deglaze with the white wine. It will evaporate quickly, but leave its flavor compounds behind. As soon as the wine is absorbed, add 1 ladle of hot stock to the rice. Stir until the liquid is absorbed - essentially once you drag the spoon through the rice, the bottom of the pan should be almost dry. Every time the liquid is absorbed, add another ladle of stock, and stir. Repeat this process a few times.
Eventually (after about 6-8 additions), the stock will start to be absorbed more slowly. So at this stage add the stock in 1/2 ladle increments.
Remove the rehydrated mushrooms from the stock (assuming that you are using some dried mushrooms too), and chop roughly to be the same size as the portabella pieces. Add the chopped mushrooms to the portabellas.
When the risotto has the right texture - creamy and with a slight resistance to the bite, add the mushrooms and stir through. Now add the cheese, butter, parsley. Stir and adjust the seasoning to taste.
Serve immediately in warmed bowls with teh same wine that you used to deglaze the pan initially.

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