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Japanese Mushroom Risotto

Posted Jan 08 2013 3:26pm

Back in December, my body was all out of sorts - in terms of my diet. Whilst everyone I know was baking cookies, icing cakes, and taking a stab at candy making, I was doing the same, but along side all of that sweet deliciousness, my body was thinking about mushrooms 24-7. I don't even know what happened or where it came from, but I was literally dreaming about picking chanterelles high in the cascade mountains, and to be honest, I don't even know if they grow there. At one point, I walked into the Central Co-op and almost had a melt down when they ran out of chanterelles, and when I say melt-down, I just mean crying on the inside. During the month of December, I refrained from talking about this too much, because I really wanted to focus on the important things like boozy fruit cake , ginger cookies , and mulled wine . Looking back, it all started with this post , and after that, I literally became obsessed. My phase lasted about a month, and since then !luckily! I haven't thought about them once, which is probably why I can now sit here and talk about it with ease. Addictions always seem easier to talk about, once you've beaten them.

I made this mushroom risotto back in December with every mushroom I could get my hands on. But amongst all of those festive sweet treat recipes I was posting, it didn't seem appropriate to break up the trend. Besides this recipe, I have a few other mushroom gems tucked away *I'll give you a hint, mushrooms, tomatoes, cream, and stock*, and I'll probably sneak them in here and there, just to avoid situations where people start referring me to the weird-crazy-mushroom-blogger-lady which is sort of like the weird-crazy-cat-blogger-lady. A title I am not comfortable with.
I do most of my shopping at the Central Co-op, which is a member owned food cooperative that participates in good deeds like supporting the local food economy, saving the environment, etc. They once gave me chocolate bar for free because there was no price on it, and they were like 'it's our fault lady, have some chocolate'. I'll never forget that moment. But then I tried to return a case of beer that spoiled without a receipt and they hassled me for 5 minutes, because clearly I look like a hooligan. That moment I try to forget. I like shopping there because I am confident that my garlic is grown locally, and not shipped half way across the world from China. When I buy mushrooms, I know that they have been picked somewhere close, possibly the cascades, although the beech mushrooms you see two pictures above where not grown in WA, but I'm pretty sure they were grown in California, and that is close, right? 
Risotto is my go-to recipe when I am feeling medium lazy. Too lazy to make something new, but not that lazy that I will eat a PB&J while standing in the kitchen in my PJ's watching re-runs of Girls. I also make risotto when I am trying to impress guests in a pinch "Oh you never mind houseguest, I will just whip us up something quick" Little do people know, making risotto is just as easy as making a pot of Uncle Ben's Instant Rice - ok that might be stretching it, but I think it's much easier than people believe, and that was me trying to trick you into learning to make risotto if you don't already know how.  
serves 4 as a main meal
notes: I used a variety of mushrooms including shiitake, king trumpet, and brown beech mushrooms. You can use whichever mushrooms you like best. If you only have access to one variety, that is perfectly fine. It is important to use a good stock when making risotto, as it will provide most of the flavor. The cream is optional, but I feel it gives a rich and creamy texture. 

4 cups stock
3 cups mushrooms, cut into small pieces
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 tbsp butter
1 cup dry arborio rice
1/2 cup cream
1 cup pecorino cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the stock in a pot, and keep it on low.

With a damp cloth, wipe the mushrooms to remove any dirt. Remove any tough stems. Cut the mushrooms into bite size pieces.

In a large frying pan or wok, on medium heat, fry the mushrooms until they are tender. Do not fry them with butter, or oil. Simply leave the pan dry. This will enable the mushrooms to retain their flavor. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and place onto a plate. Cover the plate and set to the side.

With the temperature set to medium, fry the onions in butter until soft and translucent. Do not let them start to brown, as they will continue to fry once the rice is added.

Add the rice and fry until it starts to pop 2 - 3 minutes.

Add a ladle of the stock and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula. Once the stock has absorbed into the rice, add another ladle full. Continue to stir the risotto, the whole time. Once it appears to have soaked up the stock, add more. Continue in this manner until the risotto has become your desired texture.It should take roughly 20 minutes. I like my risotto to have a bit of sauce with each bite, more creamy, therefore I add a bit of stock at the end. Some people prefer theirs with less sauce, showcasing the individual grains. It comes down to personal preference. You will know the risotto if finished, when it is thick, and the grains are tender. When you think the risotto is close to being done, stir in the cream.

When the risotto has cooked, stir in the mushrooms and the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve warm. Can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days.

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