Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Leftover Bubbly? Champagne-Porcini Risotto

If, for some odd reason you didn't drink every blessed drop of champagne in your house on New Year's Eve, or squeeze the last few drops of it into a mimosa the next morning, AND you love mushrooms: This recipe will make your day.

If you don't love mushrooms, come back tomorrow.

I fell in love with this dish. I has a strong, earthy aroma and flavor. I think a good mushroom-y dish has an effect on me that I simply cannot describe on a family website. Just sayin'... Gentlemen, prepare to impress the ladies.

Champagne-Porcini Risotto

5 or 6 large pieces dried porcini mushrooms, re-hydrated in 1 cup HOT water (reserve soaking liquid)

1 cup leftover Champagne

1 cup arborio rice (sushi rice can be substituted with excellent results. Shout out to chef Ming Tsai for showing me that via PBS)

1 shallot, minced

1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) butter

3-5 cups hot chicken stock

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

In case you were wondering, this is what the porcinis look like in their dried state:

let's keep the poo jokes to a minimum, kids.
They don't look much different in their hydrated state, just darker and soft. Anyhoo, squeeze the excess moisture out of the mushrooms and chop them up fine. Set them aside, and don't forget to save that soaking liquid! (Unless you want to ratchet down the mushroom flavor, which is understandable for most folks. If you decide to leave it out, just know you'll need more broth to finish the dish.)

Now, melt the butter in a nice big pot. If you have a Le Cruset, now would be a time to use it. If you have a big, sexy All-Clad saute pan, by all means use that. And send me pictures because I don't have one. Add the shallots and saute till they are a bit soft, then add the rice. Toss it around till it's well coated in butter and is ALMOST translucent. It should look like this:

Sorta see-through, sorta not...
Now add the mushrooms and 1 cup champagne. Simmer over medium-high heat, stirring, till the bubbly is fully absorbed. Still stirring, add all but about 1/4 cup of the mushroom soaking liquid (if using). There will be sediment in the bottom of that liquid and you don't want that, so pour carefully, or strain it first if you aren't lazy like I tend to be sometimes.

KEEP STIRRING! Preferably with a wooden spoon, by the way. Wooden spoons are gentler and do less damage to the grains of rice. Once the mushroom liquid is absorbed, you may begin adding the chicken broth or stock. I do about a half-cup to 1 cup at a time. Make sure the liquid is nearly completely absorbed before adding more. You will notice the rice becoming creamy and your arm becoming tired. I like doing risotto when I have at least 1 other person handy, because then you can tag-team the stirring efforts. Plus, guests usually want to help in the kitchen...let them if you're making risotto.

You may or may not use all the liquid. What you are looking for is a loose, creamy pot of lusciousness, the rice should still have a little bite to it. Not crunch, but it should be a weensy bit chewy in the center. When it reaches that point, take it off the heat and stir in the Parmesan.

NOW TAKE THE WHOLE POT TO THE TABLE AND SERVE IT IMMEDIATELY! Risotto waits for no man. when you spoon it on to the plate it should creep to the edges like lava flowing from a volcano to the sea. Creep - not rush. Maybe kind of ooze, but this is a sexy dish and "ooze" isn't a sexy word. "Creep" it is then...

It really is a meal in itself with a nice salad of bitter greens, some crusty bread, and a glass of white wine. But my husband believes a meal is incomplete without a hunk of roasted creature involved, so it's pictured below with herb-crusted roast beef. Recipe for that tomorrow.

Oh you have NO idea...
A special note on leftovers: Generally risotto will be devoured by all parties present at the table. If by some act of God it is not, here's what to do with it the next day or a couple days later:

Use a cookie scoop to make little risotto balls. Shove a small cube of mozzarella into the ball and pinch the little hole shut. Roll in breadcrumbs and fry till golden. Little balls of heaven. Leave it to a Southerner to deep fry perfectly good risotto...


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