Thursday, June 16, 2011

mushroom brown rice risotto

Given how very animated my Italian cooking instructor was at the thought of using arborio rice in a risotto (NEVER, ever, ever, aborio - only carnaroli!), I shudder at the thought of her reaction to my brown rice adaptation of the classic Italian rice dish.

But in addition to being a whole grain (something I'm trying to consume more of), the earthy color and slightly nutty flavor of brown rice seem somehow better suited for a mushroom risotto than the typical white rice. The shitake mushrooms, which can sometimes get rubbery when cooked, worked well in this preparation. The resulting risotto was simultaneously creamy and toothsome, with a pronounced delightfully mushroomy flavor profile.

Let's take a moment on mushrooms. The brown paper bag my mushrooms rode home from the grocery store in warned me that they absorb the flavors around them (even in the fridge), so I should take care to store them in a wise location. As I was eating this risotto on the second night (yummy leftovers), I was pondering to what extent mushrooms absorb the things in the environments in which they grow. Can you talk about terrior with mushrooms the same way one does with grapes and the resulting wine? I'd like to think so. In the event that is the case, I'm sure I could taste the Northwest ferns and nettles that I imagine grew alongside the mushrooms in my risotto.

Mushroom Brown Rice Risotto
Serves 3-4

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. dried thyme
a big pinch of white pepper
1 c. short grain brown rice
1/2 c. white wine
5-6 c. hot mushroom stock*
6 oz. shitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/4 c. fresh parmesan, grated
*I had 4 cups of stock but found the rice wasn't yet done at the end of it (makes sense: brown rice takes longer to cook than white), so I supplemented with 2 cups of hot water.

Heat olive oil in a french oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft. Add thyme and white pepper; stir to distribute. Add rice. Stir until it has a nice sheen from the oil and onions. Add wine. Stir constantly (in a clockwise direction!) until it is fully absorbed. Add hot stock, 1 ladle (about 1/2 cup) at a time, stirring constantly and allowing liquid to absorb completely between each addition. Add mushrooms with the penultimate ladle.

Add parmesan at the end, stirring to incorporate. Serve hot.

1 year ago: european adventure

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