Pretty Dishes

Risotto, I Love You
February 17, 2010, 3:56 pm
Filed under: Recipes

I’ve long been a huge fan of Italian food, and risotto has a special place in my heart. I believe the first time I had risotto was at Nell’s Restaurant at Green Lake about six years ago (if I had it before that, it wasn’t memorable). I fell fast and hard. Then I attempted risotto at home using a very basic Rachael Ray 30-minute recipe, since it seemed like the easiest way to give the process a try. Turns out it’s a solid base recipe that I have used many times since.

A few weeks ago I took on a more involved and flavorful risotto preparation (courtesy Bon Appétit), and it brought me back to that very first dish (which also featured leeks). I can safely say that this was one of the best risottos I’ve ever had, and certainly the best I’ve made at home. It was rich and creamy beyond words.

I paired it with an arugula, prosciutto, and pear salad with champagne vinaigrette and crusty French bread (of course).

If you have any love for risotto (and especially if you’ve never had it!), you should run home and start making this right now. Many home cooks are concerned about the time involved and worry it’s too difficult, but in reality, risotto is just one of those dishes you need to attend to while it’s cooking. As long as you can avoid multitasking while stirring in the batches of broth (I recommend having everything else ready to go before starting), you will be rewarded with a perfectly cooked (and absolutely heavenly) meal.

Risotto with Leeks and Shiitake Mushrooms

I keep a small bottle of white truffle oil in my refrigerator at all times because I love to put a little on french fries, etc., but you could leave it out. It does add an extra boost of delicious flavor though. This makes about 6 hearty servings, plenty for a small crowd or leftovers for a couple of days.

1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cut into 1/4- to 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 tablespoon white truffle oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved, thinly sliced crosswise (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup whipping cream

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups (or more) hot vegetable broth [for extra mushroom flavor, use homemade Mushroom Stock]
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss all of the mushroom ingredients on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until the mushrooms are tender and light brown around edges, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Meanwhile, bring the leeks and cream to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the leeks are tender and the cream is thick, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before continuing.

Stir in the leek mixture, mushroom mixture, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and Parmesan. Transfer to individual bowls and serve.


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