Tag Archives: risotto

The Quickest Wild Mushroom Risotto Ever

Risotto is one of those dishes that when I see on chefy shows on tv, I perennially call shenanigans.  I have made many a stunning risotto in my day, and every single stinking one of them became glorious from the sheer amount of love (read: time) that was poured into the dish.  A good risotto required at least a half an hour of my attention and stirring, a goodly amount of time spent prepping the ingredients beforehand and guests ready to tuck in immediately while its piping hot.  As such, I only ever made for risotto for folks I truly loved (meaning that if you HAVE had my risotto, you can bet your cutie bootie I adore having you in my life).  So the thought that risotto could share a plate with any other dish, and as a side item at that, was preposterous to me.

Fast forward a bit to the day that Santa Claus decided to bring me a pressure cooker.  I was giddy at first, then frustrated with getting my new baby to do my bidding, but shortly thereafter, head over heels in love.  I mastered the darn thing with no true hiccups and questioned why I hadn’t used one sooner.  It was a dream!  As a means of learning more about it, I turned to the queen of pressure cooking, Lorna Sass.  As I poured through her book, Cooking Under Pressure, I found the traditional bevy of stews and braises alongside surprises such as meatloaf and bread pudding.  There in the mix, I also found a recipe for risotto that purported the cooking time at under 10 minutes!  And, even crazier, no stirring!  I felt as if the world had been turned on its head a la Alice in Wonderland – what was this whimsically nonsensical recipe?  And how could I wield it in my cooking arsenal?

This recipe below is based on my pressure cooker risotto experiments, and the result is mind-blowingly good.  Yes, it takes only 10 minutes to cook.  Yes, it frees you from 45 minutes of straight elbow grease.  And yes, it’s simple enough to serve as a side.  The only problem I now have is finding a dish complicated enough to cook for the folks I love for them alone.  I’m fine with going on a bit of a culinary hunt for a challenge.  But in the meantime, I’ll be whipping up this risotto.

Recipe for

The Quickest Mushroom Risotto Ever

Ingredients
1 c. of dried mixed mushrooms (porcini, chanterelle, shitake, hen of the woods or morels)
5 c. of chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 c. of dry white wine
1/2 c. of chopped onions
2 tbs. of butter
2 tbs. of olive oil
1 1/2 c. of arborio rice
3/4 c. of grated locatelli
1/4 tsp. of white pepper
salt to taste
4 tbs. of chopped chives

Bring 2 c. of chicken stock to a boil.  Add the dried mushrooms and cover.  Let sit for about 20 minutes, allowing the mushrooms to rehydrate.  Drain the liquid off of the mushrooms and reserve.  Pour the liquid into a quart measuring cup and add enough additional stock to make 3 1/2 cups.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a pressure cooker and add the onions.  Cook for about a minute or until softened and then add the rice.  Cook rice until slightly translucent.  Add the wine and cook until absorbed completely.  Add 3 1/2 cups of stock and white pepper.  Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and bring up to high pressure.  Cook for 5 minutes and then use a quick release method to bring pressure back to normal.  Open the lid and return pot to the burner.  Taste the rice for doneness and stir to allow the last remaining stock to be absorbed by the rice.  If the rice is chewy and the stock has all been absorbed, add a little extra stock and continue to cook until the rice is tender.  Stir in the cheese and taste for salt.  Sprinkle with the chives and serve immediately.

Note

If you do not have a pressure cooker and would like to make this recipe, use the same ingredients, but follow the instructions for Rock Shrimp Risotto.

Arancini (Sicilian Fried Rice Balls or Supplí)

I get a kick out of dishes that manage to both impress folks and meet their requirement for comfort-food status.  Let’s face it, gooey mac and cheese or creamy mounds of mashed potatoes are not loved for their looks.  In fact, the massive piles of goodness only make the foodie centerfolds because they bring back atavistic longing of the food of our childhood.  Which is exactly what comfort food does  – it nourishes us and brings us to a place just like home.  But if you really think about the taste profile of comfort food in an of itself, it’s typically simple in nature, and oftentimes mild in flavor.  Color-wise, it’s oftentimes blah as well – fried chicken, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and meat loaf all hang out in the beige to brown arena.  Now, I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, or even that it’s the rule across the board – I just think it’s worth noting that the requirements of comfort food need only be that it’s tasty for the soul and consumable in huge quantities.  So, what if we celebrated the kinds of comfort food that not only felt good to eat, but also looked just as lovely.

Arancini © Spice or Die

Arancini are gorgeous – the name itself means “little orange” in Italian and is an homage to the glorious golden color of these tangerine-sized delights as they are removed from the fryer.  Crunchy and light on the outside, and creamy and luxe in the inside, these little babies are comfort food at its best.  Probably my favorite part about this recipe is that you start with leftovers – the base of the arancini is risotto, left to coagulate and thicken to a point that you can form it into mini balls.  For those of you that make risotto from scratch, you know that it’s not so good as leftovers – the distinct grains of arborio rice turn into a porridge of sorts that’s a far cry from the glory that is served fresh out of the pot.  So what better way to resurrect it than to wrap it around bits of mozzarella, bread them and fry until lovely.  I say ye.

In a lot of these recipes that call for frying “until golden” I don’t ever mention the need for a thermometer – it’s silly given that a) I always use one and b) you should too.  A lot of the fear of frying comes from not getting the temperature just right – if the oil’s too hot, your food will burn on the outside before it cooks in the inside; cook too low and your food will come out greasy.  Remove the guessing game from the equation – buy a frying/candy thermometer and be precise.  You really don’t have an excuse as they are cheap and readily available (mine came from Bed, Bath and Beyond for like $7).  Besides, you are all about kitchen perfection. I know this for a fact.

I think that what sends this comfort food over the top is the brightness of presentation – beige is lightened up by bright, zesty marinara and basil.  It’s like a little Italian flag in every bite – a whole lot sexier than a mess of elbow macaroni.  Feel free to experiement with fillings and sauces – go decadent and dip them in a fontina funduta, or zesty with a nice basil pesto.  Stir spinach, peas or mushrooms into the risotto.  One of my favorite places in the whole wide world, La Fontanella, serves their supplíwith a savory meat ragu – they come as an appetizer but are just so filling, you could make a meal of them.  In the proverbial words of Humpty, “Dowhatchulike” and I am sure that you will be relishing in comfort-food majesty.

Arancini (Sicilian Fried Rice Balls or Supplí)

3 c. of leftover risotto
2 oz. of mozzarella, cut into 16 cubes
1/4 c. of flour
1 egg, beaten
2 tbs. of water
1/4 c. of bread crumbs
oil for frying

While your risotto is still cold, form into 16 small portions – sometimes I take a large bowl and put the risotto inside, and then score it like a pie into 8 slices.  I then take each “slice” and split it into two pieces.  Voilá – sixteen portions!  Wet your hands and form each of the portions into a smooth ball.  Push a cube of mozzarella into the risotto and roll again so that the cheese is completely covered by the risotto.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with a sheet of wax paper.  When you’ve rolled all of the arancini, place in the freezer to allow them to solidify a bit.

While the arancini are cooling, break out 3 shallow dishes.  Add 1/2 c. of flour to one dish.  Scramble the egg and two tbs. of water together in the second dish.  Place the breadcrumbs in the third dish.  Take the arancini out of the freezer and start an assembly line.  First dredge them in the flour, shaking off the excess.  Then, plunk them in the egg to wet them all over.  Lastly, dredge in the breadcrumbs and place on a clean dish or another cookie sheet lined with parchment.

Heat a pot of cooking oil to 320° and gently lower a batch of arancini into the hot oil (5 at a time is good).  Cook until beautifully golden on the outside, about 7 minutes.  If you don’t cook your arancini long enough, they will not be meltey goodness in the inside.  Drain on paper towels and serve with marinara for dipping.

Note

  • Use any risotto recipe you’d like to make these guys – just make sure that it’s good and cool when you start working with it.  My recipe for Rock Shrimp Risotto is a good starting point – just leave out the shrimp and you are in business.
  • After you dredge the shrimp in flour, egg and breadcrumbs, you can freeze the arancini.  They can be fried from frozen at 340° for 9 minutes.

Rock Shrimp Risotto

Rock Me Gently, Rock Me Slowly

Risotto is such a walking contradiction – though it is a total dazzler and a showpiece at restaurants, it’s also such homey comfort food meant to be tucked into on a couch in pjs.  It can be as dressy or as casual as you’d like it to be, just as long as it’s yours.  I think that risotto has gotten a reputation for being fussy because of the many rules for it’s construction.  The grains of rice should be tender while still distinct and firm.  The dish should be creamy but not a mushy porridge.  The ingredients all have different cooking times, but the components to be cooked to perfection all at the same time.  It’s a little daunting.

Rock Shrimp Risotto © Spice or Die

I’m here to put you at ease – risotto is not hard.  I repeat, risotto is not hard.  You can make it if you follow the one major rule of risotto – be patient and give it time.  If you rush your risotto, it will suck.  If you don’t prep all your ingredients before you start, it will suck.  If you walk away from it, it will suck.  Don’t let your risotto suck, I beg of you.

There are a million variations on this recipe, and the good news is that you can use the same ingredients below and just swap out the shrimp for whatever your heart desires – blanched asparagus spears, porcini mushrooms, lobster, roasted butternut squash, you name it.  The only thing that you absolutely cannot substitute is arborio rice.  The grains, short and round, release starch slowly as broth is added during the cooking process – if you use a different type of rice, you won’t get that creamy loveliness that is the trademark of risotto.  You top off the deliciousness by rapidly whipping in butter at the end, a process called “mantecare” in Italian.  Do this, and you’ll be a risotto master.

This risotto uses rock shrimp, a variety that is much closer in taste to lobster despite the shrimp price.  They have hard shells and are difficult to peel, which is why they are sold pre-cleaned and shelled – hooray for you :)  If you cannot find rock shrimp, feel free to use plain raw shrimp, or if your budget allows, some lovely lobster meat.

This recipe makes a ton of risotto (about 8 large servings) – I roll the leftovers into balls around cubes of mozzarella, roll in breadcrumbs, and fry as a lovely appetizer called arancini (or supplí in Emilia-Romagna).  Also, because cheese and seafood is an italian no-no, I pick out the shrimp first.  That being said, if you leave the shrimp in, I won’t be mad at you.  Actually, I’ll be happy that you’re cooking not one, but two impressive dishes – and all with a whole lot of love!

Rock Shrimp Risotto

12-14 c. of stock, chicken, vegetable, shrimp or a combo (see recipe for shrimp stock below)

4 tbs. of olive oil
4 shallots, finely chopped
4 c. of arborio rice
1 pinch of saffron threads (optional)
2 tsp. of white pepper
salt and black pepper, to taste

1 and 1/2 lb. of rock shrimp, peeled and cleaned well
1 bunch of chives, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
4 tbs. of butter

Prep all of your ingredients before you start to make your life easier.  When you begin, you should have dishes of all of your ingredients, measured out and within an arm’s reach.  In a large pot, bring your stock to a simmer and keep warm throughout the entire process.

In a second large pot, add your oil and heat until shimmering.  Add your shallots and cook on medium until translucent.  Add your rice (and saffron if you are using it) and stir to coat the grains with olive oil.  Continue to cook until the rice becomes translucent.  Pour in the wine and stir until the alcohol cooks off.

Grab a ladle and spoon 2-3 ladlefuls of broth into the rice.  Stir constantly to incorporate the broth and keep the rice from sticking.  When all the broth is absorbed, add another 2 or 3 ladles of stock.  Keep adding broth and stirring until the rice is tender (taste it to make sure) and a lovely, creamy sauce has formed.  Once your risotto is cooked to perfection, add your raw shrimp and stir.  The shrimp will need about 2 minutes to turn pink and cook all the way through in the hot risotto.  Turn the heat from medium to low and add the butter in small chunks, stirring rapidly after each addition to melt the butter into the creamy goodness.  Turn off the heat and toss in your lemon zest and 3/4 of the chives.

Spoon risotto into bowls and top with the rest of the chives.  Serve immediately – risotto needs to be eaten right away, or you are missing out in a big way.

Shrimp Stock

shells from 1 to 1 1/2 lbs of shrimp
2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
4 sprigs of parsley (with stems)
1 sprig of rosemary
1 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of white pepper
2 bay leaves
8 c. of water

Add all ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil.  Turn to medium low and simmer until stock has reduced by one half.  Strain stock and toss solids.  Save broth for some lovely like a gumbo or a risotto.