Double Mushroom Risotto

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Although I usually prefer fast and easy recipes, some recipes deserve all the time and patience you can give them and reward you with rich, intense flavor that is so delicious you cannot imagine it until you taste it.  This double mushroom risotto is exactly that kind of recipe. I spent hours on the broth – an investment that paid of with rich flavors that infused every bite of the risotto.

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I used leg shank marrow bones – three two inch shank cuts (about 2 pounds). There is no more flavorful meat for making broth than the shanks with the rich leg bones filled with marrow. I put about 1 tbsp of olive oil in the bottom of my stock pot and heated it up. I placed the shanks flat on the heated oil and browned them on both sides which adds to the color and the flavor of the stock. Then I added 1 cup of chopped onion, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp of dried thyme and let them cook a bit until the onions turned transparent. I then added enough water to completely cover the meat and brought to a boil before reducing heat to a simmer. I let it simmer with a cover on it for a few hours before adding 1 oz of dried porcini mushrooms and then let it cook another half hour. I put it in the fridge overnight to cool before straining it in the morning. I ended up with 11 cups of broth which is exactly the amount I needed for this double batch of risotto.  I heated it up to a low simmer while I cooked the risotto since it needed to be the same temperature as the risotto so it could be added bit by bit at temperature for even absorption and perfect consistency.

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The next step was dry sautéing 4 cups of sliced button or crimini mushrooms. To do this, I put them in my pan and turned the heat up and stirred for about 6 minutes while they cooked without any oil or water. I then added 4 TBSP of butter and 2/3rds cup of chopped yellow onions and 1 tsp of  dried thyme. (I would have used a sprig of fresh thyme if I had it.)  I cooked until the onions became tender.

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Then I added good quality red wine – 1 1/3 cup and set it simmer until it was cooked down by half. When it was done, I added 3 1/2 cups of arborio rice and stirred it in and cooked for a couple minutes before adding 1 cup of the broth and stirring while it was absorbed.

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I then continued to add 1 cup of broth at a time – until all 11 cups were absorbed. The rice was still a bit toothsome and the liquid was still not completely absorbed when I removed from the heat and added 1/2 cup of grated parmesan to melt into the risotto. With the lid on it, the rest of the liquid was completely absorbed without any risk of the risotto getting mushy which would be criminal.

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The result is a perfect creamy risotto with intense mushroom and beef flavor. It’s addictive, so be sure you make it for an event where other people will help eat it all.

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

This risotto was made with beef broth, but can be made with chicken or vegetable broth as well. I just happened to have made a beef roast a few days ago. I hate to waste any food, so I saved the dripping and exudate and added the bones when the roast was consumed and tossed them in a skillet with water, salt and pepper and let boil until I got a rich, brown broth. I ended up with about 5 1/2 cups of broth which was perfect for risotto. I strained the broth and put it in a covered saucepan and set that on the stove on simmer.

I cut up about two cups of mushrooms. I used plain button mushrooms, but you can use just about any mushrooms you like. I cut them into slices and in a heavy pan, I tossed them in without oil or water and let them cook dry for about 4 minutes or so. This potentiates their flavor in a way that you cannot get with mushrooms cooked in water or oil from the beginning and is a great trick to make really rich mushroom dishes.

Then I added 2 TBSP of butter, 1/3 cup of chopped onions and 1 TBSP of fresh chopped thyme and let saute until the onions were transparent.

Next I added 2/3 cups of white wine and let it cook down by half – stirring it in well with the mushrooms and onions. After a minute or two, when it had cooked down, I added 1 3/4 cups of Arborio rice, stirring it in well and lightly toasting it before adding 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stirring and stirring.

This began the 25 minutes of stirring the rice fairly constantly while slowly adding another 1/2 cup of broth as the rice absorbs the fluid, adding more broth, stirring and adding more broth. You will make a mess of it if you add all your fluid at once, so just be patient. While you are stirring and adding broth, you should take a brick of parmesan asiago and shred about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of cheese to add at the end.

After you have added your 5 1/2 to 6 cups of broth, your rice may not be al dente yet. Resist the temptation to add more water, though, because you do not want mushy risotto. Instead, go ahead and stir in your parmesan cheese, mixing it thoroughly and then put a cover on your pan, taking it off the heat and letting it rest for 5 minutes or so. It will finish cooking and absorbing all the fluid and flavors and result in the rich, flavorful ad dente risotto you want.

This is not one serving – it makes six. Frankly, if I am going to make something that requires this much stirring, it’s going to last for a few meals.