"Guess what? I've got a fever, and the only prescription...is more fungus."
-The Bruce Dickinson (Christopher Walken)
[Ed. note: Yes, yes. We used "fungus" for "cowbell."]
Fungus lovers unite! Since a wee child, I have loved mushrooms. The one veggie that most kids didn't like, I loved. Go figure.
If you're a fungus fiend like me, this dish gives you an excuse to try all those interesting mushroom varieties you see in your produce section, but didn't know what to do with them. Here, nameko, shiitake, trumpet & brown cremini mushrooms were used, but you can use whatever you have available to you. Don't be afraid to experiment. Although, if you use portobello mushrooms, remove the gills.
The BF loved this dish. [Ed. note: Don't say that out loud, I told the guys we had cheeseburgers.] It would make a to-die-for Valentines Day or date-night dinner (as the BF and I had). I cut the recipe in half and it made three servings, which was perfect for us for dinner plus a little leftover for the next day. It's also perfect for your favorite person who maintains a gluten-free diet.
A note about this risotto. The original recipe called for goat cheese, which I thought overpowered the entire dish and took away the actual mushroom flavor. Now I love my cheese, but this still felt like overkill. If you feel like it needs a little more creaminess at the end, add one to two tablespoons of whipping cream, mascarpone or crème fraiche. But honestly, I don't think it needs any dairy at all.
Only made a few other changes to the original. Added rosemary from the backyard garden, which I thought it added a zing. Also added about one cup more broth than called for. Perhaps it's the brand of rice I use, but seems I always need more broth than called for.
Some more notes about risotto. They can be a bit of a mystery and to be honest, it's not always done right and can be easy to screw up. Below are a few excellent tips and how to avoid some of these common mistakes, from bon appétit assistant food editor Alison Roman.
Do not use a cold stock
Adding chilly stock to a hot pan will cool everything down and mess up the cooking process. Keep stock at a simmer in a small pan so everything stays hot and cooks evenly.
Do not stir it constantly (or not at all)
Stirring the rice constantly will add air into the risotto, while cooling it down and making it gluey. But if you don't stir enough, the rice will stick to the bottom and burn. Agitating the rice is important, because risotto's creaminess comes from the starch generated when grains of rice rub against each other. So stir it often, but feel free to give your arms (and the rice) a break.
Do not add stock all at once
If you dump in the stock all at once, you're just boiling rice. By slowly adding stock, you allow the rice to bump up against each other, creating that creamy starch. Wait until the rice absorbs all the stock to add some more.
Do not cook the rice until it's mushy
Like pasta, the rice should be al dente (just cooked, with a little bite to it). If you can mold a risotto into a shape (yes, like some restaurants do) you've cooked it too much. Risotto should have body, but should not be overly mushy and starchy. You're not making rice pudding!
Do not use a wide pot
If your pot is too wide, the rice will cook in a thin layer and won't be able to bump and grind enough to generate starch. Another problem: there will be hot and cold spots in your pot, so choose one that fits perfectly over your burner.
Do not cook at too low a heat
Yes, risotto is supposed to be a slower cooking process; but if you cook it at too low a heat, it will never cook. The rice should be at a medium simmer throughout cooking.
Do not cook vegetables with the rice
Except for your mirepoix (onion, mushrooms, garlic), you should add already cooked vegetables into your risotto after the rice is finished cooking. This is important for tender greens like spinach, delicate herbs like chives, lemon zest, and veggies like asparagus, mushrooms, and legumes. Again, you don't want anything mushy in your risotto. Make sure you cook your vegetables separately before adding them in.
Do not add cheese too early
Save things like mascarpone and Parmesan for the end of the cooking process. Fat will break under the heat and it will be, in a word, yucky. When the rice is finished, stir in some fresh whipped cream (unsweetened, of course) to give the risotto a light, silky texture.
Adapted from: Eva Kosmas Flores, First We Eat
Number of servings: 6
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.