Saturday, June 4, 2011

Shiitake Risotto with Lemongrass and Ginger

I've watched enough Top Chef to know that risotto needs to be made perfectly or people will be grievously offended.  After the most recent season, I learned that risotto is supposed to "spread" when you put it in the bowl.  When I was on vacation in St. Barth a few months ago, Dave and I went to an Italian restaurant.  The owner had imported the entire staff - waiters and chefs - from Italy.  I had some wild boar risotto and prodded at it for a few minutes before eating it. It was *fabulous,* and nothing like anything I'd ever made.  I thought I could make a great risotto before I tried this stuff.  It definitely spread out nicely, unlike the risottos I've attempted.  My risotto tends to "pile," which means that I make it too dry, probably because I get impatient and declare it finished when it looks like risotto in the pan instead of giving it some extra liquid to finish it.  So, when I made this shiitake risotto, I tried to make it with additional chicken broth so that it would "spread."  Initially, it did, but I made a ton of it, and by the time I got it all in my bowl, it looked like Mt. Risotto.  So, it's something for me to work on. 

Dave recently decided that he no longer hates mushrooms, which is awesome because I love them.  He likes shiitakes, so I found this recipe for shiitake risotto.  It was very tasty, despite being more pile-y than spread-y.  It has only a few ingredients.  I didn't have enough chicken stock, and ended up using a mix of chicken stock and veggie stock.  I think that this dish could easily be made vegetarian by using veggie stock and a little extra salt.  If you love shiitakes, this is a great dish because the mushrooms flavor the rice, too.  I was skeptical of this recipe because other risottos I've made always included a ton of cheese, but I didn't notice its absence. 

My grocery store was out of fresh lemongrass, so I used the sliced stuff in a jar -- it was completely flavorless!  I ended up adding some lemon zest, but it wasn't enough.  Definitely use the real thing when making this!

Shiitake Risotto with Lemongrass and Ginger
From The Wine Lover Cooks with Wine
Serves 2

2 - 2.5 cups chicken broth
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced shallots (I doubled this, you can never have too many shallots)
3-4 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
2 Tbsp minced lemongrass or a mixture of lemon and lime zest
1 1/4 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
3/4 c arborio rice
1/2 c dry white wine
1/8 tsp ground saffron threads
1 Tbsp minced fresh mint
1 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

1) Prepare the broth.  Bring it to a low simmer in a medium saucepan.
2) Cook the mushrooms.  In a large pan (it will need to hold the rice and stock later) over medium heat, add 2 Tbsp of the oil and add shallots, mushrooms, lemongrass or zest, and ginger.  Saute for 4 to 5 minutes.
3) Add the remaining 1 Tbsp oil and stir in the rice.  Stir until opaque. Add the wine and stir until the wine has reduced by half.
4) Turn on the TV to something you enjoy.  Add the stock in 1/4 cup increments, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed.  Seriously, watch TV or you'll die of boredom.
5) Finish the risotto!  Once all the stock has been added, the rice should be al dente.  If not, add some hot water and cook a little longer.  Stir in the saffron, mint, and cilantro and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the butter.  Serve!

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