So we bantered back-and-forth all day long. Were we going to do something last night? Would we go find a place or cook in? Who was coming and who was going? Finally, by 7:30 pm I was on my way to the grocery store. I grabbed some olive oil, salt & pepper, and some Hobnob chardonnay [warning:another annoying website] and made like a tree.
What we knew – I would be cooking dinner. What I did not know: What would that dinner consist of? While there was a strong push for my homemade meatballs, I just didn’t have the energy for that labor intensive of a process. What would fit the bill and the tummy?
After wandering the aisle of my nearby Whole Foods, I picked up the phone to confirm what you already know: I was going to make mushroom risotto.
Risotto is something that you can get pretty creative with (Calling Bruce Logue); last night, I wanted to put together a straightforward and simple take on it. Ideally, Risotto should be made with a medium or short grain rice. In that respect, Arborio (wiki) and Carnaroli (wiki) get a lot of attention. The advantage to using a short grain rice over something like Basmati is that the shorter grains will do a better job of soaking up the liquids. Getting that pseudo-sticky consistency out of your risotto is important – so keep with the shorter varietals if at all possible.
As for the shopping trip, I first made a beeline for the ‘shrooms. I grabbed a 1/2 lb of Portobello caps and a 1/2 lb of Crimini mushrooms; Crimini are often referred to as “baby Portobello’s.” Depending on what type of flavor you are looking for – you can mix and match mushrooms to your hearts desire. The flavor combinations can be surprisingly different.
Next up, I snagged some chives and then hit my first snafu: no shallots. No shallots … no problem … substitute green onions. I circled the perimeter of the store, leaving the rice for last. Three pieces of hickory smoked bacon, a slab of Robusto cheese and some Farmers Gouda Aged 5 Years (pic. left) and I was nearly finished. As a quick note, Robusto is a gouda-esc cheese that is reminiscent of a sharp parmesan. Thus, the two would meld together well. Similar to the dynamic of the mushrooms used, do not underestimate the importance of your cheese purchase.
Anyway, I moved to the rice section and all hell broke loose. I grabbed my chicken stock and continued down the aisle. Though I did not know it at the time – my chicken stock was actually vegetable stock. A) As I was making a dish heavy on the vegetables – I wanted the chicken flavor. B) I have about eight tons of homemade vegetable stock in my freezer. OH CHEESE BALLS!!!
Anyway, things got worse: the Arborio slot was completely and totally barren. According to the helper dude, not a single short grain white rice was in the entire place. BLURG!!! So in the lamest of a homage to Top Chef, I had to think on my feet. Luckily, there was some Kalijira rice. Kalijira is actually a miniature basmati. It would do, but was far from ideal. Anywho … the dish came out pretty good. So here’s the recipe … nothing earth shattering – but it was quite tasty.
I apologize for not having any of my own pictures up at this time. While I have narrowed down my camera selection to two different cameras – I have yet to take the plunge.
Mushroom Risotto with Smoked Bacon Recipe
(makes 3 servings)
- 1/2 lb. of Portobello mushrooms (diced)
- 1/2 lb. of Crimini Mushrooms (diced)
- 3 cups of
- 3 green onions (whites only)
- 2 1/2 tbs olive oil
- 1/4 c white wine
- 3/4 c short grain rice
- 1 tbs (and change) of finely chipped chives
- 2 tbs butter
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 3 Slices of Hickory Smoked Bacon
- Cheese to taste (shoot for around 2 tbs – used Robusto and Farmers Gouda in this edition).
- Put the broth in a saucepan over a very low heat. In another pan, cook your bacon. When done, dice the bacon and set aside; retain the fat.
- Warm 1 to 2 tbs of olive oil in a separate, large saucepan. Raise to a medium-high heat. Cook until the mushrooms become soft and dark (4 minutes or so). Move the entire contents to a bowl; set aside until later.
- Add green onion and the rest of the olive oil; cook over a medium heat for a minute or so. Add in the rice and cook until the rice becomes golden (roughly 2 to 3 min.) Make sure to constantly stir the rice.
- The remaining cooking time is spent adding liquid to the rice. Initially, use the wine. As you will do with the remaining liquid – constantly but slowly stir the rice until the wine is absorbed. For the remaining broth, add it in 1/2 c intervals;wait until the rice has absorbed the broth before adding more.
- Remove from heat and add in your mushrooms (with the liquid), your butter, chives, bacon, and cheese(s). Salt and pepper to taste and that’s it.
Notes on preparation:
- In the event you skipped my article, you will notice that I ended up using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. If you can, use chicken stock.
- We had a vegetarian with us, so I had to amend my intended use for the bacon fat. Ideally, I would use it during the early stages of the rice preparation. In this case, we siphoned off the non-vegetarian mushrooms and coated them with the bacon fat while the risotto cooked.
- I left out the butter by accident. I had intended to use an unsalted sweat cream butter; that said – I’ll say use whatever type of butter you are comfortable with. Just make sure to add it to the mixture before the salt [Taste it before the salt stage as well!!!]
- The mushrooms you use can be whatever types you want. Just make sure to keep the total to approximately 1 lb.