I just got back from spending 5 days and 4 nights in Vegas, which means two things. It means (1) I have a tan that looks slightly unnatural in the Pacific Northwest, where sun is a rarity and it's barely been above 75 this year and (2) I'm on a complete physical detox.
While I won’t be eating risotto for a while, before I left I made this dish and it turned out so tasty! I love mushrooms. Love, love, love mushrooms. I have a hard time understanding how anyone (including my two brothers) don't like them. They are delicious. I tend to stick primarily with your standard store varietals - button, portabella, shitake, and the occasional dried wild mushroom mix - but on my recent shopping spree at Uwajimaya, picked up a small package of morels.
If you're not familiar with morels, they are pricey ($18-$30 a pound), weird looking fungi that have a strong mushroom-y taste. You can stuff them, make pastas with them, sauces, etc. They're out of my price range but good for a treat every now and then.
And the risotto? Outstanding. After doing extensive research on morels, I discovered that asparagus is a common pairing, so through that into the mix for a nice summer taste. The goat cheese kept the creamy texture that risotto is so well known for, almost giving the dish the feeling of mac and cheese (without the grease) and was subtle without overpowering the mushrooms or asparagus. Overall, this is definitely a recipe that could be made again for dinner parties... or as a post-detox celebration.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
6 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
salt & fresh pepper to taste
1/2 pound fresh asparagus, ends trimmed, peeled, and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
6 oz dried morels or 6-10 medium fresh morels, stems trimmed, finely diced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup goat cheese
1. To prepare the mushrooms, place the dried morels in a small pot and pour in 1 cup broth and add as much water as necessary to cover them. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, and then remove from heat. Sift out the dried mushrooms and set aside.
2. For fresh mushrooms, take a medium sauté pan and add a small amount of olive oil (enough for a light film), sauté the mushrooms first before adding broth and water and simmering for 15 minutes, until the broth becomes flavorful. Sift out the mushrooms and set aside the broth. Place the mushrooms in a food processor and blend until finely diced.
3. Add the asparagus to the sauté pan with a small amount of olive oil and sauté until tender (but not mushy) and set aside.
4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and chopped onion in a large saucepan over medium-Sauté until the onions are soft. Add the rice and stir occasionally until the rice is hot and begins to become more opaque in color (approx 4 minutes). Add 1/2 cup white wine and stir, maintaining a light simmer until the wine is absorbed. Add a half of chicken broth, stirring the mixture constantly, maintaining a gentle simmer and allowing the liquid to become completely absorbed by the rice. Continue to add broth, alternating with half a cup of the mushroom broth (chicken, mushroom, chicken, mushroom) at a time as it continues to absorb. Stir constantly to prevent sticking and keep the rice at a steady simmer until the rice is al dente and creamy (approx 18-25 minutes).
5. When the risotto is nearly finished, add the diced mushrooms (if using fresh), asparagus and goat cheese and stir until the cheese has melted. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.