Friday, November 30, 2012

Oyster and Shiitake Mushroom Risotto with Fresh Herbs and Stilton


I am a MAJOR fan of mushrooms (and I mean the kind you cook with!). If you hate mushrooms, but the only ones you've ever tried are white button mushrooms from the market, you are really missing out! Recently I've been exploring using less common varieties in my dishes from Lobster mushrooms to Hen of the Woods to my new fave: Oyster Mushrooms. Many standard mushroom risotto recipes called for Portobello and dried Porcini, but I make mine with only fresh Oyster and Shiitake 'shrooms. I think this is a better and more fresh approach that keeps the focus on the fresh mushrooms and their flavors. This recipe makes a great entertaining meal, because you can serve 4-6 entree portions or 8-10 sides with this amount of risotto. You can also make it in advance and keep it warm until serving. Of course, it wouldn't be a Gour-Maybe meal if I didn't incorporate a few unusual ingredients - Stilton, cayenne, lemon zest and fresh oregano, rosemary and sage - that separate this risotto from the mushy masses. Skip your bicep workout that day friends, because you are going to be stirring your arm off! Mushroom mania begins after the jump.

Oyster and Shiitake Mushroom Risotto with Fresh Herbs and Stilton (Serves 4-10 depending on portion size)
You will need:
  • 1.5 lbs fresh Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and diced
  • 2 quarts chicken broth or homemade chicken stock - warmed over low heat
  • 4 tablespoons good quality olive oil (keep it close, you might need a little more)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced 
  • 4 fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced 
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups Arborio Rice - do NOT use regular rice people! It's not a substitute. 
  • 1/2 cup white wine(we used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 2/3 cup fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese - grated fine
  • 3 T crumbled Stilton 
  • Kosher salt and Fresh black pepper
  • lemon finely zested (garnish)
  • fresh oregano leaves (garnish)
Risotto is easy with the right steps in your prep. You have to do a lot of stirring, so if you chop and get all ingredients measure ahead of time, this will be a snap, just get ready to be stirring and by the stove for about 40 minutes. It's worth it!

My first step is warming the broth. You don't want it too hot to boil and reduce, but medium low should do the trick. Keep it warm on a back burner. Have a ladle or liquid measuring cup ready. Heat 1 T of the olive oil in a large (I mean LARGE - this makes a lot of risotto!) pan over medium heat. Add half of the yellow onion and half of the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent (don't brown) you might need to adjust the heat, about 5 minutes. Add all of the chopped mushrooms (I save a few for garnish), herbs and butter. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes on medium or medium high until they start to color. Season with kosher salt and pepper and cayenne (taste). Adjust seasoning and  cook for just a minute or two longer to meld the flavors. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Heat the same pan with the remaining olive oil. Olive oil is always tricky, sometimes I need less, sometimes more. The idea is to coat all the rice, so you need enough for that. Saute the rest of your garlic and onion until translucent again on medium heat. Add your Arborio rice to the pan and (I always use a wooden spoon because you need power) stir quickly until all the rice is coated with oil and the onion and garlic are well combined. This takes about 3 minutes. Stir in your wine (I recommend pouring one for yourself) and cook until the wine has almost evaporated (approximately 3 minutes). This is where the real work begins. Using a measuring cup or large ladle, add one cup of the chicken broth and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. You will then continue to add the remaining broth, one cup at a time. You must allow the rice to absorb each cup of broth before you add the next cup. This recipe works pretty exactly. You should be getting to the proper texture (not porridge and not crunchy, but creamy with a little bit of texture). Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in your mushrooms and cheese, until the cheese has melted and mushrooms are thoroughly incorporated.I like to top with additional grated cheese, fresh oregano leaves and a little lemon zest.

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