Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mushroom Risotto/Arancini Di Riso

Well, aren't you guys in a treat for today! Bear with me for this might be a bit of a long post. Let's talk about rice. For Filipinos it has been a long-time staple, one of the things we produce extensively. In Asia, we normally eat this as is, plain with a viand. Or if you're lucky, with garlic! If you don't know how to prepare plain rice, that's pretty sad especially if you're Asian.

Anyway. Wanting something filling for dinner with just my brother and I in the house, I decided to make a long-awaited risotto. I've never made risotto before although I have eaten it in some places. Growing up in a country that eats rice three times a day, I always wondered how different making risotto could be. Surprise, surprise, Arborio rice is a lot different from regular let's say, Sinandomeng rice? In terms of water quantities that is. Risotto requires tender love and care, and a lot of attention. Absolutely satisfying though!

I used Shitaake mushrooms for this recipe, now feel free to use whatever kind of fresh mushroom you prefer, just don't use the one from the can. You want real mushrooms for this dish (for any dish, really) and the ones from the can taste like chewy water. Also! Do not wash the mushrooms by running them or soaking them in water. Mushrooms soak up a lot of water making them taste like water instead of absorbing up flavor. Instead, get a damp towel and lightly pat and rub the mushroom.

Mushroom Risotto
1 3/4 cups arborio rice
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp butter
1 medium white onion, diced 
1/2 cup mushrooms of choice, sliced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup white wine
juice of a quarter lemon
salt and pepper to taste

First, you will need stock. Good homemade stock. If you have chicken or chicken bones, boil it with a quart of water with 1 whole broken onion, 1 large carrot and 1 chopped celery and salt and whole peppers. If you don't have chicken, vegetable stock is still amazing. Let that boil for 45 minutes to an hour, then strain the vegetables.

Brown the mushrooms in 1 tbsp butter so that they're toasty. Remove the mushrooms and add the olive oil and cook the onions until translucent.

Add the rice and fry them a bit, making them move all over the pan. Add the white wine and smell that, it should smell delicious. Continue stirring the rice until the wine is absorbed and the alcohol-taste dryed out. Add your first ladle of stock and keep the fire at low medium heat, as if a simmer. Add the mushrooms after the first ladle of stock. Continue stirring the rice and when it has absorbed all the stock. This is where all your attention should be, continue ladling in stock once the rice is dry. This should take about 20 minutes, then taste the rice to see if it's cooked, it should be soft, but still with a bite.

Drizzle in the lemon juice. 

Add in the remaining butter and the Parmesan cheese and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Maybe some chili if you like that. I didn't have parsley in stock, but if you do, chop about a handful and stir it in.

Plate it and garnish with some sliced mushrooms and shaves of Parmesan cheese on top. For an amateur, that looks pretty good, you guys. Right? Right? It's delicious too. You can taste the right amount of earthiness from toasting the mushrooms, plus that distinct flavor you get form the wine. 

Now I made quite a lot of risotto, the recipe serving about 4-5 people, so I was left with quite a lot of leftover risotto. One thing about making risotto is that it has to be served and eaten right away, otherwise if you let it sit long it gets gooey and unappealing. But fear not, dear readers because there's always a way to revamp your leftovers! For Risotto, almost always it turns into Arancini di Riso.

Arancini di Riso, literally means little oranges made of rice, what it is really, are deep-fried risotto balls.

This is pretty simple to make. Assuming the risotto came from the fridge, that would make rolling the rice a lot easier.

Arancini Di Riso

1 egg
1 cup flour
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
*optional: small slices of meat, small chunks of cheese, small chops of asparagus, carrots or whatever vegetable you might want as a surprise in the middle of the arancini.

Prepare your coating station! Wet your hands to prevent the rice from sticking, roll into a sizeable ball, and insert whatever surprise you want. Roll in flour, and then into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs. Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown (or orange!). And serve while hot!

Yum. These are just as amazing as risotto. I had some leftover marinara pasta sauce and I used that as a dip for the arancini. Perfect accompaniment, I tell you! You can use all sorts of dips you prefer for the arancini, maybe some pesto, maybe even salsa, get creative!

That was indeed a long read, but I surely hope it was worth it. These are definitely something I would love to make again. Risottos can have different variations, different star ingredients that could yield amazing results. So get cooking, and share with me what you put in in your risotto!

As ever,

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