Thanks to a care package from Justin at Marx Foods, I found myself swimming in samples of dry exotic mushrooms. The haul included about a half-ounce each of dry porcini, shiitake, matsutake, maitake, chatarelles and black trumpet mushrooms. Although my mandate was to experiment, I was in a comfort food mood when the package arrived. And what better way to enjoy the mushrooms than to work them into a simple risotto?
Before I started the risotto, I reconstituted the dry mushrooms in water just off the boil (translation: I turned off the heat once it boiled and poured the water over the mushrooms to cover). I let the mushrooms sit for 10 minutes. I strained the mushrooms and placed the liquid in a sauce pan. I added a 5" strip of kelp (kombu) to the liquid (seaweed contains .27% glutamic acid and intensifies the flavor) and put the shiitake mushrooms in the sauce pan as well, along with a sprig of thyme and two more cups of hot water. I brought the liquid to a simmer while I prepared the risotto.
What I love about risotto is that it doesn't take much to make it, and make it tasty. A little stock, some garlic, rice, oil or butter. Herbs. And then whatever else your refrigerator is willing to yield.
Here's what I put in mine:
Cake and Commerce's Vegan Mushroom Risotto
Yield: approximately 6 cups
- 1/2 oz Dry Porcini
- 1/2 oz dry shiitake
- 1/2 oz dry matsutake
- 1/2 oz dry maitake
- 1/2 oz chantarelles
- 1/2 oz black trumpet
- 5" strip of kelp (kombu)
- 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 onion, diced (I don't really like onions, so feel free to add more)
- 1 small carrot, minced (you may omit this)
- 2 T olive oil
- 1/2 C red wine
- 2 C Arborio Rice
- 1 T lemon juice
- 2 sprigs thyme
- Zest of one lemon, finely minced
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Reconstitute mushrooms, as above, and strain. Place liquid in a large saucepan along with at least 2 additional cups of water. Return shiitake to saucepan along with kelp and one thyme sprig. Simmer. Dice the rest of the mushrooms. Set aside.
Remove thyme leaves from remaining thyme sprig. Chop fine. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 2 T olive oil oil in heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, carrots and saute for 1 minute. Lower heat if too hot and sweat until translucent. Add in 3/4 of mushrooms and turn up heat. Continue to heat until mushrooms have given up much of their liquid.
Add in arborio rice and stir until all rice grains are covered in a fine coat of oil.
Pour red wine over rice. Stir until completely absorbed.
One cup at a time, add in mushroom broth, stirring the rice until the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add stock until the rice is al dente, making sure the rice has not absorbed all the liquid. It should be soft and, when served, a ring of stock should pool around the rice.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice,
Garnish with cheese (parmigiano-reggiano) if desired.
If you do not wish to make this vegan, you can always reconstitute the mushrooms in unseasoned (unsalted) chicken stock.