The other night I was a food blogger failure.
I have been thinking about mushroom risotto ever since my first trip to Europe in 2008 when I spent a summer abroad in Switzerland. During that summer, my classmates and I took a weekend trip to Chamonix, France. Even after my most recent trip to Paris, Rome, and Naples, Chamonix remains my most favorite place in the world. It’s the kind of quaint town you would imagine as you drift off into day dreams about the Alps, sipping coffee and nibbling on a chocolate eclair along the cobblestone streets while the Mont Blanc shades your face from the mild summer sun.
What? Doesn’t everyone have that daydream? You know you do.
Back to the risotto and food blog fail.
On our first night in Chamonix, my friends and I ate at a rustic restuarant tucked beneath the snow-capped Mont Blanc. It had large wooden beams, dimly lit chandeliers, and a warm cabin feel. Twelve of us were seated at a long table, laughing, sipping wine, and feasting on gloriously rich mushroom risotto.
It was this dinner that I would, without hesitation, choose as the best meal I have ever had. I had never tasted a dish so rich and flavorful. I savored every last bite, and if I remember correctly, I cleaned the bowl with a piece of a baguette so divine that you know you must be in France, because no where in the world do they get any better.
So here is why I’m a food blogger failure: I have been dreaming of re-creating this risotto for…oh, 3 years now. The other night I finally made it, and it was everything I had hoped for. And this is what I have to show for it:
And that is why I’m a food blogger failure. That may as well be a bowl of oatmeal with a side of broccoli. Three years in the making and this is how I present it to you!? I am ashamed
I guess I got so excited that the thought of taking pictures of the process escaped my mind completely. And then I served it on unnatractive dishes, not once stopping to think about sharing the beauty of it all with you, my readers, until I was about to take a bite. To make up for it, I added some pretty pictures of the rest of that weekend I enjoyed in Chamonix. They are after the recipe.
-adapted from Ina Garten
- 1/2 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 lb. fresh cremini mushrooms
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup chopped shallots
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as chardonnay
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 2/3 cups grated parmesan cheese
1. Place the dried shiitakes in a bowl and pour 2 cups boiling water over them. Set aside for 30 minutes. Scoop the shiitakes from the water with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid. You should have 2 cups; if not, add water to make 2 cups. Drain the shiitakes and rinse once more. If some of the mushrooms are large, cut into 2 or 3 pieces. Pour the mushroom liquid through a coffee filter or paper towel, discarding the gritty solids. Set the mushrooms and the liquid aside separately.
2. Meanwhile, remove and discard the stems of the cremini and rub any dirt off the caps with a damp paper towel. Dont rinse them! Slice thickly and set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock with the 2 cups of reserved mushroom liquid and bring to a simmer.
4. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the shallots over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the shiitakes and creminis and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of the chicken stock mixture to the rice plus the salt and pepper. Stir and simmer over low heat until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock mixture, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry before adding more of the stock mixture. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 25 to 30 minutes total. When done, the risotto should be thick and creamy and not at all dry. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese. Serve hot in bowls with extra cheese.
It turned out great for my first time making risotto. I may have overcooked it a pinch, as it seemed to be a little past al dente. Travis said “It has so much flavor!” And it’s true, it really does. It’s a lot of stirring, but it’s worth it. I served mine with some sauteed baby broccoli and a crusty mini baguettes.
Here are those pictures I promised!
That’s all for tonight! I will try to be better about having my camera with me when I have momentous occurrences in the kitchen.