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Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's All in the Technique

I have never been much of a risotto person.  It's not that I don't like it, because I do.  It's just that I don't like all the stirring.  I mean, who has that kind of time?  Risotto is delicious but also ranks a ten on the effort scale. So, I've either ordered it in restaurants or let someone else do the stirring.

But my moratorium on risotto making has come to an end.  The other week I picked up Ina Garten's new cookbook called How Easy is That?, and she has this incredible method for making risotto which involves just two or three minutes of actual stirring. That's right.  Just two or three minutes of stirring and then you have risotto.  It's magic.  I have to admit, but for my love of Ina, I might have dismissed this "quick risotto" out of hand.  But I thought I'd give it a try and see if it was all that.

There was only one problem.  I don't really like peas and the original recipe called for peas and parmesan as the main ingredients besides the rice.  What to do?  I started thinking about what I like in risotto and what I really like are wild mushrooms. And so I put together my own recipe and, if I do say so myself, the end result was pretty impressive.

I don't often tell you that you have to try something, but you really have to give this a try.  It will take risotto from being a rare entry on your dinner menu to something you can whip up just like that. And, once you have the technique down, which honestly will be no problem, you can add all sorts of other interesting things to it.  I know I'm going to.

Quick Risotto with Wild Mushrooms


1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
4 cups simmering chicken stock (preferably homemade) divided
2/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/2 cup dry white wine
1- ounce dried morel mushrooms
1/2 pound fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced thickly
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced
1/2 cup shallots, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.

Place the dried morels in a bowl and pour two cups boiling water over them.  Set aside for 30 minutes.  Scoop the morels from the water, reserving 1 cup of the liquid.  Strain the liquid through a paper towel  and discard the gritty solids.  If some of the mushrooms are large, cut into 2 pieces,  Set aside the mushrooms and the strained liquid.

In a large Dutch oven, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter and saute the pancetta or bacon and shallots over medium high heat for 5 minutes.  Add the morels and cremini mushrooms and saute for another five minutes.  Add the rice and 3 cups of chicken stock, and the mushroom liquid to the pot.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente.  Remove from the oven, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the Parmesan, wine, 3 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper, and stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy.  Serve hot.

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