Mixed Mushroom Risotto

The Gourmet:

This week’s Weekly Menu Spotlight is an old favorite of mine. I hesitated to post about Jamie Oliver yet again, but I love his recipe for Mixed Mushroom Risotto. I always find risotto to be one of the most satisfying meals to prepare (and to eat). I think in an odd way the chopping and preparing are therapeutic. After a long day I find it an effective way to zone out, reflect on the day’s events, relax, whatever I need to do. Then there is the actual cooking. The slow steady stirring is almost hypnotic. The addition of ingredients in stages, rewarding, with each releasing it’s own wonderful aroma. First sweating the vegetables, then adding the overwhelming aroma of garlic, the sweet, rich smell of the vermouth, the crackle of the rice. When people tell me about the “quick” risotto recipe they just made, I try not to visibly flinch. Risotto should be made slowly, with focus and attention and with time taken to make sure that the rice is neither burnt nor mushy. Anyway, I wont spend any more time rhapsodizing about risotto. Make it as you will, but I suggest you make this recipe.

As I noted in a previous post, Jamie makes an amazing basic risotto. The recipe calls for half a head of celery, an ingredient that I have rarely come across in other risotto recipes. It makes all the difference. It adds wonderful flavor to the dish as well as a little extra texture, which I think is especially important if you have the bad habit of over cooking your rice.  I make two modifications that you are welcome to ignore. First, I find that vermouth (rather than white wine) adds a glorious aroma and richer flavor to the rice. And second, instead of an onion use three or so large shallots.

To turn your basic risotto into amazing Mixed Mushroom Risotto, do the following (I’ve included my modifications):

8oz. mixed mushrooms sliced or roughly ripped apart (I like shitake)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 handful parsley, chopped
3 tbsp. thyme, chopped
1 lemon, quartered
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
salt, pepper and chili powder to taste

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil, add 1/3 of the mushrooms and thyme. Once the mushrooms are cooked through add 1/3 of the garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until it is aromatic then add 1/3 of the parsley, a squeeze of lemon and chili powder to taste. Put aside. Repeat until all mushrooms are cooked. When cooked, chop half of the mushrooms and set both chopped and sliced mushrooms aside.

Begin your basic risotto recipe, above. After your vermouth has cooked off, add all of the chopped mushrooms, reserving the larger pieces for later. At the very end, as you add your butter and parmesan, throw in the remaining mushrooms, an extra squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Stir, top with grated Parmesan and serve.

The final product is creamy, rich, tangy and oh so satisfying. Make it once and you will want to make it again and again