Posts Tagged ‘Vegetarian’

A few days ago, I was finishing a no dairy, meat, grain cleanse (yes, I actually did that to myself), my lady was returning from a trip to the tropics (well the Keys, but tropical compared to Upstate…), and I felt a need for celebration. I picked a tuscan pot roast out of one of my newest favorite cookbooks, Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen, by Pino Luogno and Mark Strausman (highly recommended, and available on amazon for as little as $2.80 cents today).  The book is a dialogue between two of New York’s most esteemed Italian chef’s and restauranteurs regarding American vs Italian, Italian food.  It is filled with funny commentary, very useful tips, and delectable recipes.  Seriously, if you like Italian, you should have this book.  But back to the pot roast….

I decided to make a risotto milanese to accompany the dish.  It is not posted here because I was unable to find any saffron anywhere in Albany, so I was not pleased with the final coloration and look of the dish (though it was delicious, on a side note, I found saffron for half off at Marshall’s, a shockingly awesome place to find treasures like saffron, truffle oil, and eccentric seasonings for half price!) This adventure into my first risotto in years reminded me just how much I loved the creamy, intense flavors of a well made risotto.  Anyone who knows me knows I have a deep seated love affair with mushrooms, so of course, two days later I made a wild mushroom risotto.

A note to the adventurous cook… a risotto is a labor of love, emphasis on labor.  You are going to be at your stove, constantly tending this dish for probably 35-40 minutes.  If this is not worth the result, I would recommend just going with a pilaf for your flavored rice.  However, for those like me, that can never get enough rice, and love when it is smooth, creamy and bursting with flavor, as in a risotto, the recipe is as follows:

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Wildmushrooms2 oz dried porcini mushrooms

2 oz dried oyster mushrooms

(any mushrooms of your choice can be used )

Olive oil

1/2 spanish onion, diced small

1 shallot, minced

white pepper

2 c. arborio rice

1/2 c. dry white wine (Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth is the bomb-diggity for this)

6 c. mushroom stock (if you can’t find mushroom stock, you can substitute chicken or veggie stock)

1/3 c. parmesan, freshly grated

To start, follow the directions on the packaging to reconstitute your dried mushrooms, if no directions are given, reconstitute in very hot water for 15-30 minutes or until soft.  Once rehydrated, drain the mushrooms, but reserve the liquid! The reserved liquid will impart an irreplaceable intensity to the flavor of your dish, and you don’t want to throw that out! Once drained, chop the mushrooms up to whatever size you want them in the final dish, or leave them as is.

On the stove bring all of the stock/the mushroom juices to a boil, reduce heat and maintain just under a simmer.

Rice nicely cook to translucency

Heat olive oil a large fireproof skillet or casserole with at least 2 inch sides over medium/medium high heat and add the onion and shallot.  Cook until the onions are sweating nicely and add the mushrooms and a healthy dash of white pepper.  Cook until the mushrooms are warmed through and starting to shrink, but not color.  Add in the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the individual grains are almost transparent.

At this point it is important that your stock be at the boiling point, if the liquid you add is not hot enough, it will not  be absorbed quickly and you will not get a risotto, but crappy rice.

So first add the wine to the rice/mushroom mixture and stir until it is evaporated/absorbed.  Now the rest of the cooking is based on look and sampling.  You are going to add 1/2 cup of stock to the pan at a time, stirring until it is completely absorbed by the rice (you may need to adjust your heat at this point as upon the addition of stock, the liquid should simmer, but not boil in the pan).  At first the incorporation of stock will occur extremely fast, but with each ladleful the absorption will slow slightly.  After you have added about 4-5 cups of stock, you can start checking the rice by sampling a grain after each incorporation.  The finished risotto should express the al dente character we commonly use to describe pasta, meaning it should not be crunchy, but still offer a little bit of resistance “to the tooth” (which is what al dente actually means).

Once you have achieved that al dente perfection, remove from heat, add a 1/4 cup of stock, stir to incorporate and stir in the parmesan with a pat of butter.  Serve immediately.  This dish may be served as a main course, as a side dish, or as below in coordination with something like scallops.

Mushroom Risotto with Pan Seared Scallops

And as always… Enjoy!

Dried Porcini Mushrooms on FoodistaDried Porcini Mushrooms


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