After eating and running my way through my vacation in southern California (gaining a glorious four pounds in the process…lol), it all came to an end with a loud, stressful, annoying thud. My last night on my trip had me sick with a migraine, followed by issues with the rental car the morning we were departing for home and, the crème de la crème….coming home to find my vehicle had been broken into in my own driveway.
Needless to say, I was in need of comfort food…and the restorative, stress reducing process of making a great meal…and maybe drinking most of a bottle of wine while I made it. Since our theme this month is a bit of a back to basics, I figured this would be worthwhile as the steps involve key cooking basics like frying mushrooms and caramelizing onions and a lot of chopping. Plus, the prologue to the recipe suggested that this particular risotto recipe is a great base for making “your own creations,” which could prove to be interesting in the future.
I did a little research in my kitchn cookbook as well as the kitchen blog about not only making risotto but making caramelized onions. The cookbook has an early chapter on some basic cooking techniques, including how to caramelize onions…
Apparently, like cooking risotto, the key to good caramelized onions is low, slow and stirred in a dark coloured (think cast iron) pan or a dutch oven with some salt and butter. I opted to use a different style of frying pan because it’s new-ish and I wanted to test it out. I would recommend following this advice as it took FOREVER (waay more than the 30 minutes that was noted in the cookbook) to get my onions caramelized in this particular pan…so definitely listen to their advice.
I had to substitute the chanterelle mushrooms for creminis because I couldn’t find chanterelles…thank goodness for google because I was able to search out a substitute in with ease in the grocery store.
As this dish was slowly, but surely put together (btw, prep was pretty simple and was an opportunity to continue my slowly improving knife skills), the smells were amazing…the mushrooms frying, the onions caramelizing, the butter, garlic and shallot mixture that the rice was toasted in. It was heaven……and a long heaven as, in retrospect, I think I took the low and slow thing a little too seriously…because again, it took awhile to get everything perfect..but oh man, was it worth it. I cannot wait to make this again, with the new knowledge and skills I have developed from this first attempt.
If this wonderfully descriptive, well written recipe is indicative of what the other recipes in the Kitchn Cookbook are like, well, then September is going to be one tasty month.
Recipe Rating: 5 knives out of 5 (!)
Om, nom, nom!
The Kitchn Cookbook: Risotto with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions and Parmesan Cheese
1/2 lb (227 g) of chanterelle mushrooms or another flavourful mushroom (I used cremini)
6 tablespoons unslated butter, plus more as needed
2 onions, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper
6-8 cups of low sodium vegetable or chicken stock
1 shallot, minced (approximately 2 tablespoons – YES! My baker self thanks you for this note!!!)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups Arborio, carnaroli or vialone nano rice
1/2 cup of white wine
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish (which I forgot)
Brush any dirt from the mushrooms and trim the ends of the stems. Slice the caps and stems thin. Set aside.
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a large sauté pan (use that cast iron or dutch oven!!!) over medium heat. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt, as well as a generous amount of black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized deep brown and smell sweet, about 30 minutes. Transfer the onions to a clean dish and cover with foil to keep warm.
Warm the stock in a medium saucepan over low heat. It should be just barely steaming by the time you start the risotto. Once it is warm, remove the pan from the heat.
While the stock is warming, melt one tablespoon of butter in a 4-quart (or larger) pot (I used the same pan that I cooked the onions in given the directions in the next paragraph – this is why you always read ahead in your recipes) and add the mushrooms. Cook without stirring for a few minutes. Once the mushrooms start to release their liquid, stir them occasionally until all the liquid is evaporated and the mushrooms are golden brown, another 10-12 minutes. Add more butter to the pan as necessary if the pan looks dry. Transfer the cooked mushrooms to the dish with the onions and cover (if the brown glaze coating the bottom of the pan starts to look or smell burnt while cooking the onions and mushrooms, deglaze it with a few tablespoons of water and continue cooking).
In the same pan used to cook the onions and the mushrooms, melt two tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until the shallot is translucent and the garlic is fragrant, about one minute. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat every grain with fat. Cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes or until the rice is aromatic and the edges of the grains have turned translucent but the centres are still opaque.
Add the wine to the pan and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan as the wine bubbles. Let it reduce until the pan is nearly dry again.
Begin adding the warm stock one ladle at a time. Before adding more stock, wait until the rice almost absorbs each portion of stock. This gradual addition of liquid is key to releasing the rice’s starches to create a delicious sauce, so don’t rush this step. You may not need to use all of the stock. Lower the heat as needed to keep the risotto at a gentle simmer.
Begin tasting the rice after about 12 minutes to gauge doneness. Add salt, as needed, to taste. The risotto is ready when the rice is al dente (when it still has a bit of chew) and the dish as the consistency of thick porridge. If you run a spatula through the risotto, the risotto should flow slowly to fill in the space.
Add a final ladleful of brother along with the remaining two tablespoons of butter and the parmesan cheese to enrich the risotto and make it extra-creamy. Fold in the onions and mushrooms and then immediately divide the risotto between individual bowls or serve family style from a large platter. Top each serving with a sprinkle of parsley.