I have said it before and I'll say it again. Risotto is not hard, it's just high maintenance. Stir, stir, stir, add liquid, stir, stir, stir, add liquid, sip, sip, sip, on the wine you poured yourself before you got into the stirring mess because you were smart and knew it would make the task that much more enjoyable, and voila! You have risotto simple as that.
Last week my mother in law invited some people over for dinner and asked if I would cook and join them. I had gone to the store earlier that day and was planning on making this wild mushroom risotto already so instead of changing menu's, I suggested she pick up more mushrooms and wine and I would just double the recipe. Have you ever stirred a pot of risotto that serves 12 people? It takes quite a while and quite a bit of wine for that matter, but the upside is I toned my biceps in the process. We hosted two other couples besides my in-laws and us, so there were eight people total. We had a fun evening and I got to know new people which can sometimes be awkward for me, but luckily they were a chatty bunch and my initial shyness eventually melted away enough to really enjoy myself. Meg, who was at the dinner said she would look for this post so here's a little shout out!
I have made this risotto a few times in the past undoubtedly in the fall when wild mushrooms are in season. The mixture of the different types of mushrooms are nice because they each have varying textures and it makes the risotto interesting. A fair amount of white wine is used for richness, but a surprisingly small amount of cheese and butter which is very nice for the waistline. Risotto has a bad rap because of all the calories it usually has but this one isn't too bad considering how delicious it is. One of the secrets is using dried porcini's to create a mushroom broth for part of the liquid and then pureeing the leftover softened mushrooms into a paste to be added as well. Both mushroom additions work with the wild mushrooms to create a strong backbone of flavor that carries the whole dish.
Wild Mushroom Risotto
adapted from Anne Burell
servings: 4 to 6
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed with the heel of your hand
1 1/2 pounds assorted fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster and cremini, cleaned and sliced
1 cup (or 1 pkg) dried porcini mushrooms, soaking in 3 cups of very hot water
1 medium or 2 small onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
2 cups dry white wine
6 to 7 cups hot chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
1/2 cup chopped chives, for garnish
Coat a large saute pan generously with olive oil and add the smashed garlic cloves. Bring to a medium-high heat. When the garlic cloves have begun to brown and are very aromatic, remove and discard them. Add the assorted fresh mushrooms to the pan and season generously with salt. Saute the mushrooms until they are soft an pliable. Turn off the heat and reserve.
Using your hand, carefully scoop the porcini mushrooms out of the hot water (they should have been allowed to sit in the water for at least 20 minutes). At this point the water should have cooled off significantly. If it is still too hot for your hand, use a slotted spoon. Pour the top 2/3 of the mushroom water into another container and reserve for use while making the risotto. Discard the bottom third. It contains a lot of sand and dirt from the mushrooms. Puree the rehydrated mushrooms with a little of the reserved mushroom water to make a smooth paste. This will not look good but it will certainly taste good! Reserve.
Coat a large saucepot abundantly with olive oil. Add the onions and season generously with salt. Bring the pot to a medium-high heat. Cook the onions, stirring frequently until they are soft and aromatic but have no color. Add the rice and stir to coat with the olive oil. Cook the rice for 2 to 3 minutes to toast, stirring frequently. Add wine to cover the surface of the rice and stir frequently until it has completely absorbed. Add the reserved mushroom water and then add chicken stock until the liquid has covered the surface of the rice. Stir frequently until the stock has absorbed into the rice. Repeat this process until the chicken stock is used up, stirring constantly, about 20-30 minutes. Check for seasoning, you probably will need to add salt (hint, hint).
During the last addition of stock, add the reserved sauteed mushrooms and 2 tablespoons of the pureed porcini mushrooms. When the stock has absorbed into the rice and the rice is cooked but still "al dente", remove the pot from the heat. Add the butter and cheese and whip until well combined. This will set the perfect consistency of the rice. The rice should flow and not be able to hold its shape and look very creamy. Serve immediately garnished with chives.
I love recipes by Anne Burell. I cant wait until she has her own cookbook. Risotto is easy. I repeat, risotto is easy so give it a try. Unless you don't stir, I don't know how you could mess it up. Confidence is everything in the kitchen. You can do this. You got this. I believe in you. You believe in you. Ready, break!