here we are firmly in autumn this week. time for a satisfying, earthy fall dish, mushroom risotto.
i like to use cremini mushrooms for this. mainly because i hate paying top dollar for chanterelles or morels or something precious but delicious like that ($20 or more per pound!). cremini are baby portobello mushrooms and so have a lot of flavor, color and texture despite their smaller size ($3 per pound). and of late i do stir in an open risotto type pan continuously as pictured above. but let me tell you a secret, if life is crazy and you need to let it simmer covered in a higher rimmed pot for 20 minutes with only an occasional stir, that's okay too, the risotto simply tastes slightly more steamed, the sauce a little more starchy but it is still flavorful and delicious, really delicious. also you'll need a little less stock this way.
with some leftovers
6-8 ounces mushrooms
2 TBSP olive oil (organic extra virgin if you've got it)
2 TBSP chopped flat leaf parsley
or 1/4 cup chopped spinach or tatsoy
1 medium to large onion, finely diced
2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
6 cups good quality chicken stock
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 TBSP heavy cream (completely optional)
prepare your cremini mushrooms, brushed or wiped clean, stem ends trimmed off, thickly sliced. and chop the onion.
salt the mushrooms slightly before cooking. heat your pan to medium high heat add 2 TBSP olive oil in your chosen risotto pan and add mushrooms, let them sear a bit, keep the heat up nice and high and stir stir stir. as they start to cook down and release some moisture add a bit more salt and maybe some pepper. just as they are done add in some greens 1/4 cup chopped spinach or tatsoy or 2 TBSP chopped parsley. stir around a bit, sample to make sure they are nicely seasoned. remove from pan and set aside in a bowl next to the stove. i think it works best to cook the mushrooms in the same pan because they enrich the flavor rather nicely this way, not overlooking the fact that you'll have one less pan to wash as well.
same pan, still hot from mushrooms. add 2 to 3 more TBSP olive oil and 1 medium onion finely diced. cook onion over medium heat, stirring frequently for 4 to 5 minutes, do not let them brown, just turn nice and creamily translucent. add in the 2 cups rice at this point. have they heat fairly high and stir the rice to coat it evenly with the olive oil and onions. each grain should be nicely coated. time to add in the stock. about a cup at a time. stir until mostly absorbed and add another cup. and so on until the rice is tender and the sauce is creamy but not too soupy and not too dry (the perfect spot in between). this takes around 20 minutes, give or take. add the parmesan cheese and the reserved mushroom mixture. add in some cream at this point if so desired. there you go. some crusty organic country bread, a nice garden salad, some still wonderful local corn on the cob or maybe some green beans. fall equinox dinner, check.