Triply mushroom and cauliflower risotto
Mushroom fan much? It’s a little bleak in New Zealand, where the only fresh mushrooms you can easily acquire are white button, brown button, and portobello mushrooms. Dried shiitakes can be found in any Asian supermarket, and sometimes dried porcinis will be lurking, smelling lovely and expensive, in the corner of a gourmet section at the supermarket or at specialty food stores like Piko Wholefoods. Yes, let’s admit this straight off: this is not really a risotto you would make every day if you had a student budget. However, it is one hell of a treat and gives the arms a great workout.
Ingredients matter in this recipe if you’re going to do a little experimenting and changing (which most people do for good reason). Basically, you want 2-3 kinds of mushroom, with at least one kind that is very flavoursome (shiitake or porcinis for example). White button mushrooms aren’t very flavoursome, but you can force something out of them in this recipe, so if you really just want to use one kind, fine. FINE. Then you also want some rice, preferably arborio rice, but if you’re feeling cheap, just go for a good quality jasmine even, short or long grain. Then some sort of other vegetable (I used cauliflower), just for a contrast in texture and some extra vitamins. An onion would be good. Then, some good butter, a little vege stock (best stuff you can find), especially if you’re using boring mushrooms, and then the best parmesan you can find (and you want to visit a cheese shop for this). Lastly, a handful of fresh herbs: a little thyme, rosemary, flat parsley and/or sage – woody, wintery herbs. So, maybe it will look something like the recipe below, maybe not. The important thing is, if you skimp on quality in one area, like mushrooms, then make up for it with using good, fresh cheese. Hope it goes well!
Three mushroom risotto
80g butter (or a combo of butter and oil if your heart just skipped a beat)
1 onion, finely diced
6-7 button or portobello mushrooms, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 packed cup of soaked shiitake and porcini mushrooms, any ratio, water reserved (soak at least 4 hours)*
about 1 c cauliflower florets about 1″ wide
3/4c arborio or jasmine rice
about 50g parmesan, finely grated
optional: a handful baby spinach leaves
In a small saucepan on low heat:
water that the mushrooms were soaked in
500ml vegetable stock (or 1L if using boring mushrooms)
handful fresh herbs, finely chopped (any combination of sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme)
lots of just boiled water on hand
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
* To ensure even soaking, place in a glass, sit another glass on top, fill the bottom glass with water from the side to just past the mushrooms, and let sit.
Melt half the butter in a medium large saucepan or dutch oven, with a sprinkling of salt, on medium heat. Add onion and button mushrooms once butter is melted. Stir occasionally until onions are golden and mushrooms are cooked but not browned. While onions are cooking, set small saucepan of stock and mushroom water on low heat and sprinkle in herbs. Slice porcini and shiitake mushrooms. Once onions are done, add cauliflower florets and mushroom slices. Cover, let sit for a minute, uncover, stir. Repeat this step until the button mushrooms slices are browned. Add chopped garlic and rice, and stir until the rice goes slightly translucent.
Add a splash of water from the small saucepan (about 1/2c), and stir in circular motions. Continue with this step to achieve and maintain a porridge-consistency mixture, using a long wooden spoon to prevent steam burning your hand. It should make bubbling noises and pop every now and then, if not, turn up the heat a notch. Continue stirring and adding, once all the stock in the pot is used up, use hot water. This should take about 15 minutes of pretty continuous stirring. Check the rice is cooked, it should be a little like pasta in firmness. Once done, turn off heat, add the other half of the butter, parmesan and spinach leaves, stir through quickly, and immediately cover. Remove from heat and let sit for two minutes. Uncover, stir through the melted butter and cheese, and taste, adding salt if desired. Serve with freshly ground black pepper and a sprig of parsley or some other herb.