Sunday Dinner: Wild Mushroom Risotto

You guys, you need to make this. Can I confess something?  It was so good, I ate it for dinner and then again for a snack! Yum, and also *burp.* Excuse me during this gluttonous time.

Ok let’s get started. I basically combined/mixed and matched this recipe by Tyler Florence and this recipe by The Barefoot Contessa. With new recipes or recipes that I feel like might  “move along” quickly once I get started, I often employ a technique I used alot when I was a novice cook. I prep the whole thing out ahead. I have since learned that in the restaurant world this is called Mise en Place, but I simply think of it as covering your behind. So I before I did anything else, I went from this:

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To this:

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And this:

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First I took these dried porcini mushrooms that I ordered online:

ImageAnd I put them in a bowl with 2 cups of boiling water. The BC’s recipe called for dried morels and Tyler’s used these porcini. How did I decide? Well morels are about $10 more for an ounce so I went with the cheaper option. I love the BC but sometimes a woman has to budget!

Then I took the carton of chicken stock and put it in a sauce pan over medium heat and let it come up to a simmer. While it was warming, I scrubbed and removed the stems from the crimini and portabella mushrooms. I used 6 oz of crimini and 10 oz of portabella, but use whatever combination of a pound you can find.

ImageThen I sliced them into about 3/4″ slices. This was about 4 slices per portabella and 3 slices per crimini.

ImageThen I minced about 4 shallots so I had about a half a cup.

ImageI also minced 2 cloves of garlic, and grated about a cup and half of parmesan cheese, but that ended up being a little too much, a full cup is probably enough, just depends how cheesy you are. Sorry I called you cheesy.

Then I took the porcini mushrooms out of the water they were soaking in and set them aside.  I grabbed a mesh strainer and a coffee filter and strained the brown water through them both.

Image I added the strained water (about 2 cups) to the chicken stock on the stove and continued to let it simmer lightly.

ImageNow, I was ready to really get down to bidness. I grabbed my dutch oven, set it over medium heat, and threw in a stick of butter. Once the butter was melted, I added the shallots, garlic and the pancetta. I used Trader Joe’s pre-chopped pancetta because I was lazy, but obviously any pancetta would do, you need about 4 oz. You could also leave it out entirely as well if you were going for a total veg dish (ditto for using veg stock instead of chicken although I think this would affect the flavor more than the omission of the pancetta.) Moving on…

ImageDoesn’t that look delicious? It gets better if you can believe it. Come on, I’ll show you!

After about 5 minutes, add all the mushrooms and if you have some parsley, chop it up and throw in a tablespoon or two.

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Yum city right? Stir it around to get it all coated in the butter and then it cook for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms start to soften and the butter is absorbed. Then add 2 cups of arborio rice and tablespoon of olive oil.

ImageStir to combine all the ingredients and make sure that the rice gets coated in the oil, then add about a half a cup of dry white wine and let cook for about 2 minutes.

Now it’s time to start adding the liquid. Add about 2 to 3 ladles worth of the chicken stock/mushroom broth from the simmering pot to your risotto.  You want enough liquid so that your rice is kind of “swimming in it” like this:

ImageYou can see from the photo above that I have also added about 1/2 teaspoon of saffron after adding the first batch of liquid. I used the cheap, imitation stuff, but if you are using the real deal, 1/4 teaspoon would be more than enough. I also added about a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. I stirred everything thoroughly and let it cook about 10 minutes, stirring about every 2-3 minutes. I kept my heat at med/low so that the liquid in the pot was just barely simmering. Once the mixture started to feel dry, I added 2 more ladles of liquid and continued to stir every 2-3 minutes.  It took about 30 minutes to get all the liquid absorbed. I kept testing it to make sure that the rice was being cooked but wasn’t getting mushy. I ended up using all the liquid in my pan, but if your rice is done before you run out of liquid, that’s ok! When mine was ready it looked like this:

ImageThen I added about a cup of the parm, stirred until it was coated and then served it in a pasta bowl with a little more cheese and parsley on top. I poured myself a glass of the wine that I used in the recipe and then I moaned and groaned through the entire bowl (all by myself because no one was home except the dogs who already think I’m weird.) Gosh, it was yummy!

ImageSeriously, make this and make it soon.  It’s a perfect Winter Weekend delight!  Here’s a link to the recipe.

— Kate

French Onion Soup and Imperial Chicken

Today I decided that I would try my hand at french onion soup because I had a bunch of leftover onions from the holidays wasting away in my basket and with Mark getting ready to go out of town, I didn’t see another good opportunity to use them all before they went bad.  I also had a sliver of Gruyère cheese leftover as well, and that cheese is expensive so it was nice to find a use for the rest of it also.

I searched the interwebs for a recipe and ending up combing ones from Tyler Florence via Food Network, Smitten Kitchen and The Pioneer Woman. Let’s get started.

First I threw a stick of butter into a dutch oven and put the pot over a burner on medium heat.

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Then I started peeling, halving, and slicing 5 medium to large sized sweet onions.  The recipes generally call for regular, yellow onions but I generally tend to buy the sweet ones because I prefer them in most things, so that’s what I used.

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ImageOnce the onions were sliced, the butter was melted and just starting to brown.

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So I threw the onions in and stirred them around to coat them in the butter and then let them cook (stirring occasionally) for about 20 minutes.  While the onions were cooking on the stove, I pre-heated the oven to 400 degrees and grated this little nub of Greyere cheese that I had left:

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I added a little bit of parmesean as well to stretch the cheese and increase the flavor profile.

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I didn’t have alot of bread choices on hand today, so I took 4 slices of regular Shepherd’s sandwich bread and I used a biscuit cutter to cut circles that would fit inside of my ramekins.  But you could (and probably should) use slices of french loaf.

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After I cut the bread, I buttered it on both sides and set it aside for now.

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After about 20 minutes, the onions looked like this:

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I put the pot in the oven and cracked the lid just a bit to let out some of the steam.

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Then I walked away and watched the football game for 30 minutes.  When I came back, they looked like this:

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I stirred the onions a bit and added a half a teaspoon of sugar to help with the browning…

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And 2 bay leaves to help with the flavor.

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Then I mostly covered the pot again and put it back in the oven for another 45 minutes.  When I took it out, it looked like this:

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I set the pot back on the stove top over medium/high heat, removed the bay leaves, added about a cup of white wine, scraped down the sides, and let it cook down about 10 minutes.

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Then I reduced the heat to low, added about 3 tablespoons of flour, and simmered for another 5-10 minutes.

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Then I turned the heat back up to high and added two boxes (aka two quarts) of beef stock, three cloves of minced garlic, and a couple of dashes of Worcestershire.  Once it came to a boil, I turned the heat down and let it simmer for 45 minutes.

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While the soup was simmering, I started on the “Imperial Chicken.”  This is a version of a recipe I actually learned to make as a child through a cooking class my mom signed me up for.  It’s nothing special, but I thought it would pair well with the soup.  First take two chicken breasts…

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And slice them in half…

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So that you have 4 breast pieces.

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Then you need to assemble the breading stations.  I use wax paper for the dry stations for easy clean up and less dishes.  On the first piece of wax paper, pour about a cup of flour, then melt a half a stick of butter in a bowl.  On the last piece of wax paper, combine about a half of cup of Parmesean cheese, a cup or so of bread crumbs, and about 2 teaspoons each of oregano, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.  You can really use any seasonings that sound good to you, or you can use pre-seasoned bread crumbs, there’s no magic formula.

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Before you started assembling the breaded chicken breasts, heat a large pan with about 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil on medium/high.  Really you can use any lipid that you want, but I find that half butter and half canola oil is great for browning.  The important thing is that the amount should be enough to fully coat the pan.

Drop each piece of chicken in the flour…

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Then in the butter…

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Then in the bread crumb mixture.

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Once they are all prepared, place them in the hot pan and cook for about 7-10 minutes on each side.  You want the outside to look like this:

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And you also want the insides cooked through so if your crust is getting nicely browned, yet it still gives to the touch of your finger in the middle, turn the heat down and let it cook a little bit longer.  While this was happening to took the opportunity to move my dirty dishes to the sink…

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Wipe down my counter… Image

And set the table.

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When the chicken is brown on the outside and cooked through, remove to a plate and let rest for 10 minutes.

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While the chicken is resting, turn on your broiler (if it has a low setting, use it) and place the buttered pieces of bread under it until it’s nice and golden brown.

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Once the bread is toasted, pour the soup into ramekins until they are about 3/4 full…

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Then add two pieces of bread, (if you used french loaf, you could just use once slice)…

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And then a handful of cheese.

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Stick the ramekins on a cookie sheet and place them under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and browning on the corners, like this:

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Place the ramekins on a plate with the chicken and serve.

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I liked this dinner because it really was easy to make and the flavors went well together. Here’s a link to the recipe.  Try it sometime when it’s cold and grey outside like it was today.

— Kate