Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dried Porcini Mushroom and Boursin Cheese Risotto

Dried Porcini and Boursin Risotto
By: Chef Cristian

Risotto is like a white canvas. It's a creamy and satisfying base which allows itself to be painted by a chef's immagination. It's not something I like to have too often, but it's certainly a dish I look forward to making. And each time, I like to re-create it, as I would a painting, with a new combination of ingredients. Dried Mushrooms develop an unmistakable earthy flavour which I think is perfect for flavouring a creamy risotto. I will also be adding a creamy, garlicky Boursin cheese just before serving it!

Risotto cookery is not hard - but you do have to follow a few rules. 1) You must use a very starchy rice (Arborio Rice) that will develop that typical creaminess that risotto is renown for. 2) Don't walk away from your risotto. You must be able to stay with it through the cooking process. Those of you with commitment issues might want to try an easier dish! 3) Risotto should be served immediately for best texture. I wouldn't serve a risotto to guests that is older than 15-20 minutes. (although I have found that microwaving the next day with a little water, does bring it back a lot of its creaminess... but don't tell anyone!)

Yields: 3-4 portions

- 1.5 cups of Arborio Rice
- 4-5 cups of Mushroom or Chicken Stock (it's ok if you make too much)
- 2 Shallots
- 1 Cup of dried Porcini Mushrooms
- 1/2 Cup Minced Pancetta or Bacon (optional)
- 1 Cup of regular White Mushrooms
- 1/3 Cup of fresh Chopped Parsley
- White wine of choice
- 1 little box of Boursin Cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste


1. The first step in all of my recipes is to prepare all your ingredients. This means, chopping, dicing, peeling, slicing, washing, everything you're going to need. You will prepare the following:
- Make the stock (either from scratch or from bullion) and keep it warm
- Dice Shallots
- Soak the dried mushrooms in a little bowl with water until they get soft (keep the water)
- Slice the pancetta or bacon into thin slivers
- Chop up the white mushrooms into pieces
- Wash and chop the parsley

2. Put a cooking pot on the stove and bring it up to med high heat. Pour in a swirl or two of olive oil. Add the Shallots, and Bacon and sautee until the shallots are translucent and you have rendered most of the fat out of the bacon. About 10-12 mins.

3. Add the white mushrooms and the parsley and sautee for another 5 minutes or until the
mushrooms start to release some of their liquid.

4. Add the Arborio Rice and stir immediately so that it doesn't burn. You can let the rice toast for a minute. After this, add about a 1/2 to full cup of white wine and stir for another minute. Add the Porcini Mushrooms and the brown water that has formed in the bowl (make sure that there is no silt or sand in the bowl. Dried mushrooms will sometimes have sand stuck to them. If this is the case, it's better not to use the liquid in the bowl.)

5. Now comes the technical part - Add stock just enough to slightly cover the rice and bring it to a simmer. For the next 25 minutes you will keep adding stock slowly and stirring the risotto. Always keep just enough stock in the risotto to just barely cover the top layer of rice, don't drown it. You want to keep this at a temperature where the dish is gently simmering (not boiling violently). You will notice that the rice absorbs a lot of stock, so keep adding when you see it getting low on stock, and keep stiring often so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. At the end of the 25 minutes you want a rice that is soft when you bite through it (some people like it a tiny bit hard in the middle - this is called "al dente"). As soon as you have a creamy and soft rice take it off the heat. At this point, add as much Boursin cheese as you like and stir it in quickly so that it incorporates into the creamy risotto. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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