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.