Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mushroom Risotto

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I got myself a box of carnaroli rice a few days ago. I wanted to make risotto with the fresh, plump mushrooms I had in my fridge. Some months back, I had a delicious risotto dish at Bistro Petit Salut, and after the meal, wondered why I have never bothered cooking it at home. I think it was the need for constant stirring and watching that put me off ... but well, you'll never know till you've tried.

And now that I have tried, I'll say that it is time consuming - I ended up in front of the stove for almost 45mins (and this, despite halving the recipe proportions). For that amount of time, I could have whipped up 2, maybe even 3 - dishes to go with rice. But then, it was a nice change from the usual veggie stirfry and tofu dishes that I eat most of the time. And oh, I happened to pick a fabulous recipe for my maiden attempt. The mushrooms were cooked in their own liquids, then simmered in cognac and cream. Imagine that! My, my.

Yes, the eating totally makes up for the work, and I'll most certainly make this again. Mushrooms cooked in cognac and cream ... can't get over that. Mmmm.
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For the benefit of readers who are not familiar with cooking risotto, read this helpful article by Fine Cooking. It explains the types of rice you can use (and I am copying a portion of it below):

Arborio: The most widely available risotto rice, arborio is typically wider and longer than carnaroli or vialone nano. It's not as starchy and it absorbs liquid a little less well.

Baldo: A relatively new variety, baldo is most comparable to arborio in shape and starchiness. It's the quickest cooking of the risotto rices.

A hybrid of Italian and California rice varieties, Calriso is also quite similar to arborio in cooking characteristics, though it expands a bit more. Calriso is a trademarked brand name.

Variously hailed as the "king" or the "caviar" of Italian rices, carnaroli is the preferred risotto rice in most regions of Italy except the Veneto. It's said to produce the creamiest risotto, yet it's more resistant to overcooking than arborio.
* Note: I bought mine from Fairprice Finest at S$7.40 for 1 kg.

Vialone nano: The preferred rice of the Veneto region, vialone nano can absorb twice its weight in liquid. With a starch content almost as high as carnaroli's, it also produces a very creamy risotto.

Use a robust-flavoured mushroom. Button mushrooms are very mild in taste, so I added shiitake too, although I didn't include them in the photo above.

(from SimplyRecipes, who adapted it from an old printed issue of Saveur Magazine)
Preparation time: 40 minutes. Serves 6.

Here are some important things the recipe doesn't state, which I need to highlight:
* Unlike Jasmine rice that we asians eat everyday, you should not wash the rice you are using for risotto.

* For all ingredients, I used the baking cup as my measure. However, only for the rice, I used the rice cup (the one that comes with the rice cooker) as measurement. Hence, for 3 modest portions, I used 1 heaped rice cup and it was just right - note that risotto can be quite filling, so a little goes a long way.

- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 cups flavorful mushrooms such as shiitake, chanterelle, or oyster mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into half inch to inch pieces (I cut into chunks)
- 2/3 cup cognac, vermouth, or dry white wine (I added just 2 tbsp cognac because I had children eating this, and still, the flavour was strong enough to shine through)
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 7 cups stock
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup of peeled and minced shallots (OR 1/3 cup of yellow or white onion, finely chopped)
- 1 3/4 cups risotto rice
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsps chopped fresh parsley

1. Melt 2 tbsps butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté about 5 minutes (if using chanterelles, dry sauté first for a minute or two and let the mushrooms cook in their own juices before adding the butter). Add cognac, bring to a boil, and reduce liquid by half, about 3-4 minutes. Lower heat to medium, add cream, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.

2. Bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan.

3. In a deep, heavy, medium sized saucepan, heat oil and remaining butter on medium low. Add shallots or onions and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat with butter and oil. Add simmering stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring enough to keep the rice from sticking to the edges of the pan. Wait until the stock is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. This process will take about 20 minutes. The rice should be just cooked and slightly chewy.

4. Stir in the mushroom mixture and the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve garnished with parsley.

Buon appetito, everyone. And in true Italian spirit, "Mangiare! Mangiare!"
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  1. This looks so delish! This dish must be really rich in umami. I would love to make my own risotto too, but too bad i'm allergic to dairy:(

  2. look so good. i never tried risotto before now you make me feel like trying. hehe.

  3. Looks absolutely delicious! :D

  4. I have to say yours looks a lot better than mine!

  5. This is one of Jacques specialties..:) Like you:)

    He enjoys standing over the stove .glass of wine in hand..I like seeing him there.. friends have said oy how can you do that?
    If you are a relaxed person who enjoys food and is SO worth it.. Friends..italian friends introduced us to this yrs first i thought i could never like that kind of wrong was I?:)

    It is such a comfort meal..

    LOVE this dish..

    You are good.. 3 little ones and the patience of a saint:)~

  6. I must try carnaroli rice! When I cooked my risotto, I used arborio and it turned out a little over cooked and mushy. Thanks for the tips! I love those coz they don't appear in cookbooks but are oh so important!

  7. Ah! one of my favorite comfort foods: ))

  8. Oh JU that is a gorgeous plate of risotto! I love preparing it and standing there watching it become creamy and delicious...
    I have an asparagus one on my blog you might enjoy as it is vegetarian...
    I think I need to make a risotto this week...I have been craving it and you pushed me over the edge!

  9. Thanks for this, Ju,
    I love mushroom risotto and will give your recipe a try. Your photos are lovely too (as always!).

  10. This looks gorgeous Ju! And a great recipe too. I will have to try the cognac tip next time I make mushroom risotto. I love risotto, it's one of our staples in winter as it's so warming and filling.

    By the way, you should try making risotto in the rice cooker. I do this and it always turns out really well. Just make sure you stir it occasionally and keep an eye on it so that it doesn't cook too far, but it saves standing and stirring for 45 minutes, so you can make a side salad and clean up while it cooks.

  11. i love the bistro petit salut rendition too! they presented it so well with the gorgeous light cream emulsion presentation. ^^
    cognac and cream in risotto sounds really good...(:

  12. Looks like it is definitely worth your efforts and 45mins behind the stove :)

  13. I'm so glad you used carnaroli rice instead of arborio (psst...arborio is still on the recipe ingredient list). Your risotto looks fantastic. I guess I could make it without cognac since I don't deal with alcohol. I love how you ended the post with some Italian. Whenever I make this, I will be saying "MANGIA! MANGIA!" to myself, too!

  14. The photos are so appealing!! Ju, you are really a good chef and photographer! :)

  15. hello ju! just wanted to pop a suggestion in, i think that mushroom risottos (or any mushroom cream dishes actually) will have their flavor enhanced by adding a touch of truffle oil. i used to think that truffle oil was overhyped, then i realised that sometimes less is more, all you need is enough for you to taste that there is a delicate truffle aroma/taste rather than being whacked in the head by it. =) that's my personal take la, cause my treshold for the truffle taste and aroma quite limited ^^"

  16. Thanks for the info on the rice! I thought there's only aborio until I read your post! Now you reminded me to get myself some chanterelles to make some risotto.

  17. My my indeed. This dish looks incredible. Perfect dinner simple but luxurious dish to impress someone. Plus you can impress them further by telling them you spent 45 minutes in front of the stove. I don't find that oyster mushrooms are that tasty, but they soak up sauces like nobody's business, so it would be a good one to try using your recipe.

  18. OMG this looks YUMMMMMM!!! cognac and cream! high time I try that combination. stunning photos as usual.

  19. Mushrooms cooked in cognac and cream, I still can't get over that either since you mentioned it the other day. I don't have a really great go-to recipe for mushroom risotto, I have to try this one.

  20. so long since the last time i had risotto
    urs looks so so so yummmmmm!!!!!!!!

  21. that is a great explanation on rice! Risotto is sooo sooo time consuming like u said but oh so delicious esp with earthy mushrooms. Cognac and cream just sound luxurious to me. ahhhhh...a bowl of that please!

  22. By coincidence I am making a butternut squash risotto tonight and was interested in reading the differences between the types of rice! As ever, a wonderful blog.

  23. Creamy goodness! Risotto does require a lot of time and patience, but it's totally worth it!

  24. Hmmm... have to search for this then and taste the difference.

  25. Wowzers! Mushroom risotto is one of my favourite things and yours looks completely divine! Thanks for explaining the differences between risotto rice - fab!

  26. This sounds so delicious, the texture looks perfect!

  27. Usually in Italy mushroom risotto is made with Porcini type of mushroom, if you can find them (even dried). Their usually big and the texture is a little jelly but very tasty.
    Usually we use garlic and onion for the base with butter and oil.
    We don't use heavy cream generally.
    In the end we add a little more butter with the parmesan cheese.

  28. Molto dettagliato questo post, con delle splendide ed una magistrale realizzazione del risotto ai funghi. Un abbraccio Daniela.

  29. My first attempt at risotto and it was delicious. As a child I used to think it was gross and now I'm convince it was just a bad experience.