When the snow is swirling outside and you feel like spending a bit of time in a warm kitchen stirring leisurely, risotto is your answer.
I have a deep love for risottos. It is an endlessly versatile dish, perfectly at home in any season. A stock, some aromatics, and a bit of rice transforms into a bowl of comfort.
I have taken risotto on as the meal I would most like to perfect in my life. Ultimately, I want mine to be able to stand up next to any Italian nonna’s. Lofty dream, I know. But it’s a life project.
One of the things that makes me almost endlessly sad is to see recipes for “risotto” that include copious amounts of butter or oil or cream. Risotto should not be a excessively fatty dish. It is, as I said, essentially stock and rice. You add at the end a bit of Parmesan if you like, or alternately, depending on the combination of ingredients, a heaping tablespoon (at most) of perhaps some marscapone cheese (across four servings) . The creaminess of the dish is almost entirely derived from the grains of rice giving up their starch.
Today’s risotto was a combination of roasted and chopped chestnuts, dried and fresh mushrooms and a lamb stock. This happy combination was again facilitated by The Flavor Thesaurus. I had lamb bones in the freezer from a roasted lamb shoulder, so it was easy to toss everything in a pot to simmer a stock in the afternoon. A bit later on, I set a metal sieve over the pot and soaked some dried chanterelles to rehydrate them and add a further bit of meatiness to the stock.
When it was time for dinner, I sauteed some fresh mushrooms (a combination of oyster, portabella, and cremini) along with the rehydrated chanterelles that I chopped in a very hot pan with some olive oil and salt and pepper, almost like duxelles. When these were brown, I put them in a bowl for later. I added a sliced shallot to the pan, reduced the heat to medium and soften it a bit. Then I added about a cup and a half of rice, cooked it for a minute then deglazed the pan with vermouth. The rest of the cooking is almost identical to the recipes here and here. I added in the mushrooms just before the last addition of the lamb stock to rewarm them. PK tip: Make sure you add a generous extra ladle full or two of stock just before serving. You want it almost a bit too loose. It sets up so quickly as you get it to the table and you want it to be spoon-able, not stiff. The plate was garnished with a bit of thyme (lots in the stock) and grated Parmesan.
Playlist included Writing to Reach You, by Travis.