Monday, November 10, 2008

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Feed your friends and there's a good chance they'll feed you back. It's a positive feedback loop, you might say. Foraging especially is about passing the basket. Nothing pleases me more than taking some wild edibles over to the home of a good friend who knows how to wield a Wusthof and whomping up a great dinner.

This weekend we happened to have a bunch of chanterelles on hand as well as a single porcino and a few hedgehogs. The black trumpets came from the market, where they were selling for $25 a pound. Rumor has it that trumpets can be found in a few isolated parts of Washington, but the real mother lode is in Northern California. A professional forager I know talks about hillsides near the Mendocino coast being carpeted with the little buggers. Later this week I'll be in southwestern Oregon where I know of a patch, so hopefully we'll have a future post on the trumpet.

In the meantime, you can salivate over my friend Tipton's Wild Mushroom Risotto, which, while easy to make, is still a risotto and requires that extra hoodoo-voodoo to come out just right. (Here's a more detailed risotto roadmap.) Tip nailed it. Just saute a couple diced shallots in butter, add a half-pound or more of 'shrooms and cook several minutes. Next stir in the rice, which is when the fun begins. The key to a good risotto is toasting those rice grains for a few minutes and coating them with the saute before adding the first ladleful of liquid. After that, it's all patience. As Tip said, make sure each ladleful is soaked up and evaporated before adding the next. And you don't want to over-scrape. Using a squared-off wooden risotto spoon is essential. We used hot chicken stock, reducing the amount of each ladle toward the end, and finished the risotto with butter, grated parm, and a sprinkling of chopped parsley. Classic and simple.

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