Archive for December, 2010

Shroomin’ Risotto

The VV has taken some time off since his last post and, to be honest, you’re lucky you’re getting one at all. The hardware on my computer is freaking out and typing is a Huge Pain in the Ass, below is a labor of love. But it may be a good thing that my keyboard’s messed up because today is all about the risotto, and salivating on my computer probably won’t do any more damage.

Oh, and the first thing you need to know: risotto is NOT difficult. It just sounds highfalutin and looks fancy. It does require a lot of attention, though, so break out a bottle of wine and kick it by the stovetop. (Veg Virgin confession: I got a solid buzz on the last time I made this. I am the furthest thing from a sommelier—in fact, I consulted a tall wino on what do drink who was subsequently rewarded with this meal—but I recommend Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris; basically, a hearty red.)


2 cups Arborio rice (one of my few concessions away from whole grains, but a necessary one)

6+ tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

8 cups vegetable stock (9 if you like the risotto a bit softer and creamier), heated

or 4 cups mushroom stock, the rest vegetable stock, mixed & heated

10oz. mix of cremini, oyster, and shiitake mushrooms, sliced (baby portobellos would probably be excellent but, again, I’m allergic)

Makes 4-5 huge, meal-size servings

*This recipe makes a lot; so if you want to do it as a side dish, just halve the ingredients.

First, if you have dried mushrooms, rehydrate them according to the directions on the package. The leftover liquid, which should be about 4 cups, is your mushroom stock. Mix this with the 4-5 cups of vegetable stock. Otherwise, just use the vegetable stock. (I think I prefer this latter version, for what it’s worth.) Also, they’re kind of pricey, but if you can afford it, definitely exchange the cremini for porcini, which offer a much deeper, fuller, darker flavor of superness.  Regardless, make sure the stock is heated; if you use cold stock with risotto, the dish won’t come out right. Just keep it over a low to medium-low heat; and do not let it come to a boil: you don’t want it to reduce.

Next, take half the oil and coat the bottom of a pan over medium heat. Cook the onions until translucent—about 3 minutes. Add the Arborio rice, which you pretty much must use, and mushrooms. If you’re using fresh, not rehydrated, shrooms, then add them in now; otherwise, wait until the end. Add the rest of the oil and stir the whole mess around, making sure to get the rice covered in the oil. Now add half of the heated stock and wait for it to almost completely absorb, stirring regularly. As it continues to absorb, pour in one or two ladlefuls (about 1/4 – 1/2 cup at a time) and STIR. The mix will probably come to a slow, rolling boil, which is fine; if it goes much higher, drop the heat a bit.

You’re just going to keep ladling and stirring. Once you see that there are about 2 cups of stock left-to-be-ladled, start tasting your rice. It’ll still be crunchy at this point, but it’s good to get an idea of how quickly it absorbs the liquid from here and you’ll be able to pull the rice off the burner when you have it at the consistency you like.

In the end, you’ll have a gooey, supple, mushroomy plate of boom. I recommend serving with Veggie Grated Topping for full on Italian effect.

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 4. You have everything you could want in a risotto: creaminess; heartiness; warmth; gustatory satisfaction. Remember the aforementioned tall wino? She said the risotto was “awesome.” All that aside, this dish may take some omnivores by surprise since risottos, at least in my experience, use chicken stock, and may have seafood in them (any pescatorians here?). If you end up making this risotto and someone complains, just guilt trip the hell out of them by fluffing ‘how much work went into this meal, which you slaved over, and you’re just trying to be healthy and you wanted to mix up the weekly menu and, besides, you hear the Veg Virgin is really hot’—you know, that card.