Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 27, 2009: Mushroom and chestnut risotto

Our tofurkey escapades left us with half a can of chestnuts. I had a little nibble on one and thought its earthy flavour might be enhanced by mushrooms, so I worked a mushroom and chestnut risotto into the week's cooking. I started with this recipe as a guide, skipping the butter and going light on the parmesan at the end. This way it's relatively low-fat, soft and tender without being creamy, and easily veganisable (by omitting or substituting the parmesan).

The recipe was an understated success. The chestnuts and mushrooms did indeed work well together. Even so, I probably wouldn't hunt down more chestnuts just to repeat this recipe - I like a straight-up mushroom risotto just as much.

With only Dad and I sharing the goods there were lots of leftovers and I converted them into risotto cakes. I had been hoping to just ball the mixture up and dust it with cornmeal as I have previously but it was too dry - at this stage I ditched the vegan-friendly angle, adding a beaten egg and a little grated parmesan to achieve more malleable, fry-able patties. They were terrific with a generous squeeze of lemon.

Mushroom and chestnut risotto
(based on a recipe from Chestnuts Australia Inc)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups arborio rice
2 1/2 cups stock (I needed an extra ~2/3 cup of water as well)
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup chestnuts, chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 cup parmesan, grated (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion until soft. Add the rice and stir it through until it is evenly coated in the oil. Reduce the heat to low and add about a quarter of the stock. Once the stock is stirred through add the mushrooms, stirring often as the stock is absorbed. Continue adding the stock in small portions and stir the risotto regularly as the stock is absorbed. Stir in the chestnuts with the last portion of stock. Test the rice for tenderness and cook further, adding small amounts of water, if necessary.

When the rice is cooked through, season the risotto to taste and serve topped with grated parmesan.

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