There are four components used to make the risotto, three of which can be prepared well in advance of serving.
Mushroom Puree (duxelles)
12 oz. sliced mushrooms, crimini have better flavor, but the plain white ones are fine, too
2 oz. sliced shallots
1/2 oz. butter
Heat a small pot over midium-high heat, and add the butter, when it sizzles, add the shallots, and cook, stirring until the mixture begins to brown.
Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt, stir a couple of times to mix them with the shallots, then cover the pot, and allow the mushrooms to cook. They will very quickly release a bunch of water, so won’t likely burn, but check after a couple of minutes to make sure, and give them a stir. After about four or five minutes, the pot should be boiling. Remove the cover, and allow to cook dry. Stir once in a while to prevent burning, but browning will add to the flavor depth.
Transfer the cooked mushroom mixture to a food processor, and process until smooth. This can be refrigerated for several days, maybe a week. It will lose flavor after about the second day.
4 cups chicken broth (or water if you want it to be vegetarian)
12 oz. sliced mushrooms, as above
1/10 oz, about 3 grams dried porcini mushrooms
4 oz. yellow onions, sliced thinly, about half an onion
2 oz. celery, sliced thin
10 black peppercorns, more or lessa bay leaf if you have some
a sprig of fresh thyme, if you have it, otherwise omit. Dried thyme does not taste the same
Combine the whole mess, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for one hour. Strain and cool. This keeps well in the fridge for a week, and freezes well for a long time. Sorry, no photos…
If this part is done correctly, it will reduce the time required to put the risotto on the plate to less than ten minutes.
2 T. butter
8 oz. onion, small dice, about half an onion
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
1 c. dry white wine, cheap, but not undrinkable
1 c. mushroom stock from above
Add the rice, and cook, stirring, until it is hot, then add the wine, about 1/3 at a time, stirring until it is absorbed and the rice dries out. You will know when you can push the rice to one side, and there is no pool of liquid in the center.
Add the mushroom stock in the same 1/3 at a time way, then transfer to a baking pan, spread out, and allow to cool completely. Transfer to a storage container, and cover if not using right away. Refrigerate for two days without much ill effect.
Making The Risotto!
Finally, you are ready. Prepare the required ingredients, then get ready to dine.
8 oz. of garnish mushrooms. This means mushrooms that will be in the risotto in big chunks for decoration. I usually buy one of the overpriced Chef’s Mix packages at Whole Foods.
12 oz. of par-cooked rice, by weight12 oz. of mushroom stock
3 1/2 oz. mushroom puree
4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese, the real stuff from Italy. Or use Grana Padano which is more or less the same but less expensive
2 oz. unsalted butter
Start with the rice and 2 oz. of stock, get the rice hot over high heat.
Add the garnish mushrooms, I usually cut the large ones up, with another 2 oz. of stock. Stir.
Add more stock, and stir, then add the puree. Stir. Get it hot, but don’t burn it.
It’s getting close. Keep adding the mushroom stock, a couple of oz at a time, until it’s all in. Then add the cheese, and stir it in.
Finally add the butter and basil, and mix them in. Add pepper to taste, and a little more stock if it seems thick. It should be soupy. When it sits, in the pot or on the plate, it will continue to thicken up.
Serve with a nice pinot noir, like Bonne Mares or Clos de Vougeot. Let me know what time to be there. I don’t want to miss the wine!