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Risotto
Jun 8th, 2004

So I didn't end up making a spring stew with the produce from the Farmer's Market. I saw some nice asparagus while doing my weekly (hah!) shopping at the grocery store and decided to make mushroom and asparagus risotto instead. I've never made risotto before, and frankly have never been overly fond of it, but risotto discussions seem to have been popping up in foodie circles all over the web lately, so I decided to give it a try.

I soaked half of my porcini mushrooms in boiling water for 20 or 30 minutes while I sliced a pound or so of crimini mushrooms, chopped the asparagus into half inch pieces, and minced up some of the spring onions and fresh garlic from the market.

When the porcinis were reconstituted I pulled them out, squeezed them dry, chopped them and added them to the criminis which were sauteeing away on the stove. I put about five cups of stock on to boil - I used a combination of chicken and mushroom (both by Pacific Foods) to which I eventually added a couple scoopfulls of the porcini soaking water.

Sauteed the onion and garlic in 2 tbsps or so of olive oil and Smart Balance (butter substitute that uses non-hydrogenated oils) and added a cup and a half of Arborio rice. Stirred the rice around until it was coated with the oil and then poured somewhere around a half a cup of dry Vermouth over the rice and stirred it around until it was absorbed. Then I started the risotto process of adding a ladle at a time of hot broth to the rice and stirring it around until it was absorbed into the rice before adding another one. That probably took 20 or 25 minutes I'm guessing. Somewhere in there I boiled some water and poured it over the asparagus pieces to blanch them, and corralled Jim in to grating some parmesan for me. Jay is usually my cheese grater of choice, but he was too busy playing something or other to be bothered. About five or ten minutes before the end I added the mushrooms and asparagus to the rice goo. When the rice was tender and gooey but still had a very slight crunch to the middle of it, I pulled it off the heat and let it sit for two minutes with the lid on. I saw that tip somewhere, but I'm not sure I would do it again, it seemed to make things cross the line a bit between creamy and gummy. Before serving I stirred in the parmesan cheese and fried up some pork chops.

It was alright. I think the bottom line is that neither Jim nor I like risotto all that much. It's just so rich! I think if I made it again I wouldn't add the cheese, it just didn't need it. And I might go in a different direction - say shrimp and asparagus, or shrimp and green peas, something a little crisper and lighter tasting. Although that seems directly contradictory to the aim of risotto which is to be rich and creamy, so maybe I'll just have to accept defeat and find something else to do with the remaining half pound of Arborio rice I have left. Rice pudding anyone?

Percent of semi-nutritious meal consumed by Jay: 10%. He ate a few bites of pork chop and then whined about wanting chicken noodle soup for the rest of the meal. I think he ended up eating a peanut butter and honey sandwich at 9:00 for his 'night snack'.

Tonight I'm thinking Mexican. Corn cakes with a black bean salsa and maybe some chicken, since that's all Jay and Ian will eat anyway. We'll see.


Comments

Papa Geno is a big risotto fan and has taught me to appreciate it. Mine never turns out quite as well as his does, but I did recently make some that was delish. The silver lining of last years fires has been an outstanding morel season. I have been out twice and collected about 4 gallons of mushrooms. Last week we had venison loin with a garlic, butter and wine morel sauce, morel quiche and also morel barley risotto (a girl has to put mushrooms everywhere when she has 4 gallons). Everything was quite tasty, but the risotto (prepared with fresh rosemary and thyme) really turned out well. Even with David standing over the stove with me saying 'Just dump all the broth in, it'll cook faster'. I did not heed his advice. Have you tried it with barley?? It cooks just the same as with rice and is very good.

David is out of town again, so it is back to Quorn patties and cobb salads. Yum!

-posted by Katie on Mar 8th, 2006
Quorn? Isn't that a heavy metal band?

Figures Papa Geno would cook a mean risotto. I'm drooling at your 4 gallons of morels. Venison loin and morel sauce, that's so Montana!

I was actually thinking of doing a risotto with barley, as I like barley very much, but I was out of it. For some reason the local grocery store has all sorts of yuppie stuff, but totally falls down in the alternative grain selection unless you want to buy a boxed mix. I don't want a box of barley pilaf, I want barley damn it! So I'll have to hit the co-op or Whole Foods pretty soon and stock up.

Last night I made Double Corn Cakes with a black bean avocado salsa and Chile Rubbed Chicken Breasts on a bed of spring greens with mango for dessert. The corn cakes came out super yummy, they have sauteed corn, red pepper, and green onions in a cornmeal, flour, buttermilk base. They come out like corn pancakes. They're tasty but fairly neutral, and I think you could even go a totally different direction and serve them with sliced mango and sour cream/cream/yogurt. I'll post the recipe later.

I'm pretty proud of my spice rubbed chicken method. I came up with it myself. You see my oven is broken, it has been for years now. The broiler part doesn't work, so I've developed my patented 'Broken Oven Bottom Broiling' technique. I rub the chicken with olive oil and the spice rub of the moment and then put it in a pyrex pan on the very bottom rack with the heat turned all the way up (500 on my oven). (Be sure to set to Bake not Broil, otherwise your broken oven which is the reason for this broiling work around won't do a damn thing and you'll still have raw chicken. Not that this has ever happened to me.) Turn the chicken over after about 3 to 5 minutes depending on thickness. It comes out really tender and tasty. Someday I would like to have an oven that can actually broil things, but I don't think I'll ever abandon my bottom broiling method. I love it so.

Haven't decided what's for dinner tonight, but we've got a lot of basil to use up. Can't really go wrong there.

And when it's just me, I'm a Gardenburger girl. The flame roasted veggie kind, not the Portobello flavor, that one's nasty.

-posted by Kymm on Mar 8th, 2006
Quorn is a soil fungus that is cleverly harvested and magically molded into faux chicken patties, nuggets, breasts, etc. I know I shouldn't have to say it, but it really is fabulous. Yum-E.

If I get up the gumption and am able to stretch my tether again, I'll head back out into the burn and get more morels. I could send some your direction, if'n you'd like.

Also I forgot to mention that barley cooks longer than rice. It takes me closer to 40 minutes at the stove, which may explain David's impatience.

Hey I want the corn cakes recipe. Get a'postin.

-posted by katie on Mar 8th, 2006
Mmmmm.... soil fungus patties. How could they not be fabulous? Maybe we can get Michael interested in these on his MickeyD's off days. Soil fungus Michael?

Anyone who sent me hand picked morels in the mail would achieve my undying love and gratitude (although they probably have that already, so really they may ask, what's in it for me?) and maybe a little sumpun' from the big city.

-posted by Kymm on Mar 8th, 2006
I just got a bag full of lovingly handpicked morel mushrooms in the mail from the coolest person I know in Montana. Thanks sweety!

I'll try to come up with a worthy recipe. I'll be a ponderin'.

I promised a little something from the big city. What kinds of ingredients can't you get in Whitefish? I have access to all things Asian, and I would be more than happy to return to The Souk. Curry pastes? Spice blends? Whaddya think?

-posted by Kymm on Mar 13th, 2006
© 2006, Kimberly Cooperrider | kymmco@excite.com