Wednesday, March 18, 2009

RECIPE: Wild(&crazy) Mushroom Risotto

My husband and I are lucky to live in the city that is home to the Reading Terminal Market. I love this place…I just love it. Sure, there is the 9th street Italian market that’s a bit more rustic and traditional(I shop there whenever I can find parking). It's a food oasis in the middle of a few blocks of a residential neighborhood full of row-houses. It is lined with butchers, fish mongers, exotic meat and cheese shops and produce as far as the eye can see. And don’t get me wrong….I love it there too, but the Reading Terminal Market is a one stop shop for all things yummy(and it’s indoors and practically sitting on top of a subway stop….location, location, location). And there you can find(amongst the Amish bakeries, fish mongers, butchers and specialty food booths) Iovine Brother’s produce. I’m addicted to this place. They have towering tables of the freshest produce and it’s dirt cheap. DIRT cheap. I’ve gotten to the point to where I now have to bribe my husband to meet me there after work on Fridays because I simply don’t have enough hands to carry everything home by my lonesome. But even though they have mountains and mountains of produce to pick from I’m never content leaving without visiting the small display of pre-packaged and oh so exotic mushrooms at the register. I suppose it’s their version of the impulse purchase. But as for me, I would much rather spend $1.50 on Yellow Foot mushrooms than a pack of gum. It is because of this new found plethora of exotic(and affordable) mushrooms that I give to you this recipe:

Wild(and crazy) Mushroom Risotto:

1 cup aborio rice

3 cups beef stock(you should really use beef stock to get the best out of this recipe, but chicken will do in a pinch)

¼ cup white wine(sometimes I throw in a splash of brandy or bourbon as well...I find that mushrooms and thyme like bourbon almost as much as I do)

1 cup chopped assorted mushrooms(once again, you can use just plain old button mushrooms for this, but to make this the best it can be I recommend a nice mix of whatever you can find at the market)

½ onion – chopped

2 tbs. butter

2 tbs. olive oil

1 tbs. fresh chopped thyme



Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Start by bringing the beef stock to a barely-there simmer. Meanwhile, begin sautéing the onions and mushrooms in the butter and olive oil(it may seem like a lot of grease but we’re adding a lot of rice to soak it all up…yum). Once both ingredients have softened and released some of their water, add the rice and thyme. Stir the rice for a minute or so to be sure all of the grains are coated in some butter/oil. Next pour in the wine(and liquor if you're using it). Stir another minute. Now slowly add the beef stock, one ladle at a time and stir the rice until all of the liquid is absorbed(You’ll want your heat to be moderate for this, perhaps medium-low, to allow the stock to just simmer away, not boil). A good way to tell if the liquid has been absorbed completely is if you can drag your spoon across the bottom of the pot and leave a risotto-free line that lasts a second or so. Continue with this process for about 20 mins. After 15 mins taste the risotto. You’ll do a lot of tasting in this dish which is probably why I love making it so much. Ideally you want the risotto to be al-dente. I know, I know, everyone knows that they should eat their pasta and risotto al-dente, but honestly, just cook it to your liking(as long as you don’t like mushy, over-cooked risotto, because that’s just wrong). The rice should end up being moist but not sticky, and you most likely won’t use up all of the 3 cups of broth getting to this point. Once you’ve cooked it to your liking salt and pepper it to taste. ALWAYS salt and pepper at the end when you’re dealing with dishes that have stock added to them. Stock is salty(even the low sodium stuff) and you certainly don’t want to end up with ruined risotto after 20 mins of non-stop stirring and attention. That would be devastating(and I’ve been there). Once it’s on the plate I like to add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese(if you stir it into the whole pot of rice I find it ruins that silky smooth consistency you’ve worked so hard to achieve). And you’re done! I serve this as a side dish, a main dish(with an arugula, asparagus salad topped with a poached egg...recipe to follow...keep an eye out for it!) or as an appetizer. And the leftovers work great in risotto balls or in a rice and herb stuffing.


  1. I'm gonna try to make this weekend. We shall see. I've never been very succesful at making risotto. JT

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