In typical Vancouver fashion, the weather has taken a sudden turn from ‘pretty much summer’ to ‘torrential downpour.’ Maybe it’s because it’s still so warm out, or maybe I’m just very used to my West Coast climate, but you know what- I don’t mind it. I might even go so far as to say that when I woke up this morning and it was pouring outside I was… pleased? Surely, that can’t be right.
I do love a hot sunny day, but there is something really great about a rainy day, too (especially when that rainy day is still rather warm, making the wet 6am puppy walk much more pleasant) (both me and Chelsea recently adopted dogs! More on that later… ).
So, in the spirit of wet weather foods (which are still delicious when it’s warm out)…
I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love a good risotto. I know they must exist, but surely they are rare. Even back when I was a fussy little kid and didn’t like mushrooms at all, I still loved a good mushroom risotto. It’s just so creamy and satisfying!
The porcini mushrooms make this dish a real umami packed treat. I have a friend who went vegetarian a ways back and, during the transition when she really, really missed meat, I would make her this (using vegetable stock, of course). The amino acids in the mushrooms are so deeply savoury that it makes a simple vegetarian dish reminiscent of a decadent steak dinner.
Risotto, by nature, is gluten-free, so this recipe is as well. However, if you are sensitive to gluten, I would recommend using caution when buying stock and broth from the grocery store as many of them are thickened with wheat. Then again, if you do have a gluten intolerance, I’m sure you’re used to reading food labels anyway- but just in case!
On cooler, gloomy days I like to serve this risotto with a little sprinkle of blue cheese on top (maybe paired with a small steak- I am still an omnivore myself) but it works just as well on a sunny day- serve it as a main alongside some roasted or fresh veggies!
- 6 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock (for a completely vegetarian dish)
- ~1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine (optional, only because I rarely have leftover wine hanging around)
- ½ cup parmesan, grated (plus extra for garnish)
- ¼ cup fresh chives, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- In a medium pot, bring the stock to a boil. Add the dried mushrooms, remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large pot, cook butter and onions together over medium heat until tender but not browned, roughly 5 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms from the stock and add to the onions. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Add Arborio rice and stir well, cooking for an additional minute. If using wine, add now and cook until almost all evaporated.
- Add 1 ladle of your warmed stock to the rice and stir until almost completely absorbed. Add another ladle and stir frequently until that is absorbed- repeat until all your stock is used, adding one ladle at a time and allowing each to be absorbed before adding the next. I stir my risotto gently and frequently. I like to think I'm massaging the starch out of the rice, really amping up that creamy texture risotto is so well known for. This whole process should take about 30-35 minutes.
- At this point I would take a little taste and see how the texture is. Some people like their risotto more al dente than others- the grains of Arborio should be soft and creamy but still have a bit of texture. If at this point your rice is still too firm, add a touch of water and stir until that has absorbed.
- Once you are happy with the texture of your risotto, remove it from the heat and stir in the chives, salt, pepper and parmesan.
- Serve immediately and top with additional chives, parmesan or- if you're feeling really decadent- a small crumble of blue cheese. Yum!