Day #5, Veggie Challenge

Full disclosure: we may have consumed some chicken wings in a night of drinking for a coworker's good-bye. What can I say, except that meat eating habits tend to resurface after four gin and tonics, oops. But, we did get back on the wagon yesterday, starting with a lunch consisting of slices of Zucchini and Gruyere, Cauliflower and Gruyere, funghi, and tomato pizza from Grandaisy Bakery.Our day ended with a restaurant quality dinner of Jamie Oliver's Mushroom Risotto with Garlic, Thyme and Parsley. Definitely don't miss the meat in this dish. It requires a bit of attention and frequent testing to make sure the rice isn't overcooked, but is otherwise an easy, but impressive meal -- and the last of our vegetarian challenge.All in all, a good week of delicious eats!

Mushroom Risotto with Garlic, Thyme and Parsley
From Jamie Oliver's The Naked Chef
Serves 6

approximately 1 quart stock (chicken, fish or vegetable as appropriate)
1 T olive oil
3 finely chopped shallots or 2 medium onions
1/2 head of celery, finely chopped (discard any tough outer ribs)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
14 oz risotto rice
1/2 c dry white vermouth (dry Martini or Noilly Prat) or dry white wine
5 T butter
3-3 1/2 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Sauteed Mushroom Recipe
9 oz fresh mushrooms (one type, or a mixture)
3 T olive oil
1 small handful of thyme, chopped
1 handful of parsley, roughly chopped
1 pinch of chili powder
a squeeze of lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper

Stage 1: Prep the mushrooms
Slice the mushrooms thinly, or tear depending on the type (see above), in half. Don't cook all the mushrooms at once - do them in 2 or 3 batches. In a very hot pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add the mushrooms and thyme. Cook for a bout 1 minutes, toss them, then add the garlic and a pinch of salt. (It is important with mushrooms to season them slightly, as they cook.) Cook for another couple of minutes then taste, then add some parsley, a very small pinch of chili powder, a squeeze of lemon juice and a little pepper. Toss again, taste again - by now they should be pretty much perfect.

Stage 2: Start the basic risotto recipe
Heat the stock. Then, in a separate pan, heat the olive oil, add the shallot or onion, celery and a pinch of salt, and sweat the vegetables for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and after another 2 minutes, when the vegetables have softened, add the rice. Turn up the heat now.

While slowly stirring, continuously, you are beginning to fry the rice. You don't want any color at any point. Keep the rice moving. After 2 or 3 minutes, it will begin to look translucent as it absorbs all the flavors of your base. Add the vermouth or wine, continuing to sir as it hits the pan.

Stage 3: Add the stock to the rice
Once the vermouth or wine seems to have cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a pinch of salt (add small amounts of salt to taste while you are adding the stock). After the first ladle of stock has been added, add 1/2 of the sauteed mushrooms.

Turn down the heat to a high-ish simmer (the reason we don't want to boil the hell out of it is because, if we do, the outside of the rice will be cooked and fluffy and the inside will be raw). Keep adding ladlesful of stock, stirring and allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take about 15 minutes. Taste the rice -- is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Check seasoning.

Stage 4: Finish the risotto
Remove from the heat and add the butter (yup, all 5 tablespoons of it) and the Parmesan, saving a bit of the latter to go on top if you like. Stir gently and add other 1/2 of sauteed mushrooms. Eat as soon as possible while it retains its moist texture. Serve it on its own with a crisp green salad. Enjoy!


krissy said...

oooh that looks yummy! i might have to try it one day.

Arlene said...

good job on meeting your veggie challenge. you didn't do too badly i must say. i thought the zucchini and gruyere slices and the risotto looked especially enticing! that Jamie Oliver has some good recipes for risottos.

Janice said...

Krissy: Yes, you should! It is SO frickin' tasty.

Arlene: Thanks! Yup, those zucchini and gruyere slices are absolutely delicious. I'm going to have to go back to Grandaisy next weekend!