…or, No-Recipe Risotto!
Last week was my first visit of the year to the Piedmont Farmers Market, so you can imagine I got a little feverish when faced with all the great food I’d been missing. The result was locally raised beef (BEST hamburgers I’ve ever had), lots of strawberries, tomato plants, roasted peanuts and wild shiitake mushrooms that were as big as portobellos.
I at first thought the mushrooms were too expensive – $1 per cap, roughly. But when you price it out, it’s still about $6 cheaper than you’d find at Whole Foods – the mushrooms are much larger, fresh and grown locally, which is always better for every reason.
This year, I made it my goal to get over my mushroom aversion. I’ve always hated the taste and texture of fungi – they felt squishy between my teeth – but the earthy quality of wild mushrooms is slowly walking me to the other side. These beautiful, big mushrooms helped me take a giant leap: wild mushroom risotto.
I’m finally getting the hang of risotto. Finding that balance between al dente and too-mushy rice…grainy versus chewy. You want it creamy and smooth, but the rice grains to still hold on to their integrity.
The risotto formula is usually the same, so I whipped this up on a risky whim – without a recipe. I’ll do my best to describe how I did it below, but adjust to your preferences…
Wild Mushroom Risotto
- 1 c. sliced wild mushrooms (I used shiitake)
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
- 3 shallots sliced
- 4 sage leaves, ribboned
- 4 c. chicken stock or broth
- 1/4 c. dry white wine
- Little over 1 c. arborio rice (if you add more, increase stock by 1 c.)
- 1/4 c. Parm-Reg cheese, shredded (more for serving)
- Handful chopped fresh parsley
Bring stock to simmer on back burner.
In large Dutch oven, heat on medium. Add bacon and cook until crisp – drain on paper towels. Add shallots and cook for 1 min. Add mushrooms and sage – stir until softened and fragrant, 1-2 min. Add rice and stir to coat, 1 min. Add wine and deglaze pan, reducing heat to low. Stir until absorbed.
Add 1/2 c. stock and stir until absorbed. Repeat with remaining stock, stirring constantly. When rice has just lost that grainy bite and is all creamy, add in the cheese and reserved bacon. Stir to combine – season with salt and pepper.
Serve with more Parm-Reg cheese and parsley.
This was really good, folks. The mushrooms weren’t too chewy or spongy, but played nicely with the smoky-salty bacon, buttery Parm-Reg cheese and light shallots. I’m a little jealous that I let a lucky guy take the leftovers to work …
One thing is for certain: I will be buying way more fungi and locally raised/grass-fed beef from now on. You just can’t compete with the quality (or price).
Enjoy your spring bounty, friends! xoxo
I’m making this very soon!