Sunday, March 27, 2011
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.
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.
Calriso: 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.
Carnaroli: 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!"