Magical Morel Risotto
The Ingredients (plus wine, which was chilling in the fridge)
Stove Top Step-By-Step
Morel Risotto (Printable Recipe)
Serves 4 (Main course)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. fresh asparagus (about 14 spears), diced in 1″ pieces
2 shallots, diced
6-10 morel* mushrooms, gently rinsed, halved, and sliced in 1/2″ pieces
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, heated
4 dried mushrooms (optional, for added flavor to the broth)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
2 cups uncooked aborio or carnaroli** rice
1/2 cup white wine (I used a Vouvray and we enjoyed the rest with dinner)
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I used about 1/2 cup)
Rinse and prep all ingredients. Practicing mise en place is key as you need to stir the risotto constantly.
Place an 8 cup capacity pot over medium heat. Add stock and dried mushrooms (optional) to the pot. Warm up stock until it is slowly simmering. Reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer. Have a ladle nearby.
Prepare vegetables. Place a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Add oil and butter to the pan. When the butter begins to bubble and foam, add asparagus and shallots to the pan. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the asparagus is al dente. Add in morel mushrooms and gently stir the mixture. Cook for another two minutes to soften the mushrooms. Turn off heat and set mixture aside.
Place a heavy bottomed large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil, the chopped onion, and the sage to the pan. Stir until onion is just softened- about 5 minutes. Add the rice into the pan, and stir until it is hot and evenly coated with oil- about 4 minutes. You will begin to see the rice turn from an opaque white color to clear. Now add in the 1/2 cup white wine and stir, maintaining a gentle simmer, until it is absorbed by the rice. Using the ladle, slowly add 1/2 cup of the broth into the pan. Stir the mixture constantly, maintaining a gentle simmer and allowing the liquid to become completely absorbed by the rice. Continue to add 1/2 cup of broth at a time, waiting to add each 1/2 cup until the previous broth is absorbed by the rice. Stir constantly to prevent sticking and keep the rice at a steady simmer. Continue to stir and add liquid until the rice is al dente and creamy. This should take 18-25 minutes depending on which type of rice you use. (If you used dried mushrooms in the broth, discard them or save for another use.)
When the risotto appears to be almost finished, add the reserved vegetable mixture into the pan. Stir gently to incorporate the ingredients. Taste to see if salt and pepper are needed and add them to the pan if desired. Turn off the heat and stir in grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Cover the mixture and let it rest for three minutes. Then serve immediately.
*Be sure to purchase your morels from a reputable source or if you are going hunting research the correct ways to identify mushrooms first. There are false morels which are toxic so it is important to know what you are doing before eating the morels!
**Carnaroli rice is a specialty Italian rice, which produces a very creamy risotto due to a high starch content in the rice (even higher than aborio rice). I used a package I picked up in San Francisco from Manicaretti and thought it did have a superior texture when compared to aborio rice, although aborio makes a darn good risotto too.