For me, risotto ranks right up there with frittatas as a perfect dish with which to use up a fridge full of leftovers. As long as you have some carnaroli or arborio rice in your pantry, a wedge of parmesan in the fridge, and a good quality chicken or vegetable stock on hand, a hearty and delicious risotto is just a few minutes away.
A few days ago, Muppet and I found a lonely leek, some leftover roasted chicken and some peas that needed to be used up in our fridge. To these goodies we decided to add some lovely dried (and rehydrated) porcini mushrooms that my wife and I bought in the village of Asolo, Italy when we travelled there last year on a fabulous culinary bike tour with Chef Jody Adams, and our friends at ItaliaOutdoors. I'm kicking myself that I didn't buy more while we were there, because these shrooms are big, meaty and loaded with flavor, a world apart from the crumbled scraps of mushrooms that often pass for dried wild ones here.
The mushrooms (and some of their rehydrating stock) really are the key to the flavor of this dish, so do try to find some decent ones. Can't find porcini (or cepes, if you parlez French), then find the best looking dried wild mushrooms you can, chanterelles or morels would be lovely too.
We served this risotto with a simple green salad and a loaf of crusty bread, and couldn't remember the last time leftovers tasted so good!
Cheers – Steve
- 1 cup of carnaroli or arborio rice
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups mushroom stock (reserved from rehydrating your mushrooms)
- 1 cup chopped leeks, while and pale green parts only
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup of dry white wine
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced fresh rosemary
- 1 cup cooked, or frozen peas, defrosted
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups of diced cooked chicken
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 12 freshly sliced basil leaves for garnish
- Place the mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling hot water to rehydrate. Use at least 2 1/2 cups of water because you need two cups of the residual stock for the risotto once the mushrooms are rehydrated. Let sit at least 30 minutes, then scoop out the mushrooms with a slotted spoon, and squeeze and extra water from them. Roughly chop them and reserve.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken and mushroom stocks until hot, turn the heat to simmer and reserve.
- In a large sauce pan (I use an enameled Le Creuset) cook the mushrooms in a fine slick of olive oil until nicely browned, toss in the cubed chicken just to heat through, season with salt and pepper to taste, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and reserve.
- Add a little more of the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan , and toss in the chopped leek. Saute the leek over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic, stir for about a minute, and then add the rice stirring well until it is fully coated with the oil and butter. Add the 1/4 cup of wine to the pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has evaporated. Add about a cup of the hot stock and cook, stirring frequently until it has evaporated.
- Continue to add stock, one cup at a time until it is fully used, or until the rice reaches your desired level of done-ness, you want it to be cooked al dente, still with a toothsome bite.When the rice is just done, turn the heat to low, toss in the grated cheese, the rosemary and two more tablespoons of butter. Add the reserved mushrooms, the chicken, and the peas. Mix well and adjust seasoning, adding salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Toss in the chiffonade of basil and spoon into warmed bowls, passing additional grated cheese at the table.