Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mushroom Risotto with Cambozola

While making risotto last night I had a crazy idea. What if I added the Cambozola instead of the traditional Parmesan? If you are not familiar with Cambozola imagine brie with a hint of blue cheese running through it. The official definition of Cambozola: cow's milk cheese that is a combination of a French soft-ripened triple cream cheese and Italian Gorgonzola. It's delicious no matter how you decide to eat it and frankly I can't seem to eat it fast enough when it's around. 

So what if you're the type of person who thinks they do not like mushrooms? (I used to fall into that category until Julia Child taught me how to properly cook them.) As it turns out, like most things, add butter and you can't go wrong. Look at the close up of the mushrooms below. These are not the gray, slimy, mushrooms you get from a can. These are fresh mushrooms cooked to what I can only describe as perfection.

For this recipe I chose cremini mushrooms because I've developed a fondness for them but please feel free to use whatever mushroom or combination of mushrooms you like. Last night I used 6 cremini mushrooms but you can use as many or as few as you like. That is the great part about cooking, food can be customized, within reason, to suit your taste.

Place a medium sized skillet over medium high heat and add 2 T of butter. (Real organic butter or at least non -RBST butter. No funny spreads out of a tub.) This is the trick I learned from my friend Julia: do not add the mushrooms until the foam and bubbles from the melted butter begin to disappear. If you add the mushrooms before this point the butter won't be hot enough. When the mushrooms are added stir them around and you should notice that they absorb all of the butter, no worries, when they are beautifully brown they begin to release some of this butter back into the pan which is your second sign they are done.

When the mushrooms are done put them in a separate container and begin making your risotto in the same pan. Add another tablespoon of butter and begin to saute 1/2 of a medium onion. When it begins to look translucent add 1 cup of aborio rice, risotto rice, and stir to coat. I've tried this with regular rice and it just doesn't work. Regular white rice doesn't cook, even if you stand there adding liquid for 45 minutes, so don't waste your time or groceries. After a minute or so add 1/2 cup of white wine. Last night I used the New Age white wine; I think it cooks up well without being too oaky or too acidic and it's budget friendly.

Allow the wine to reduce to half of it's volume to make sure the alcohol has cooked off and then add 1 cup of hot chicken stock. This is where you have to take into consideration the saltiness of the cheese you're using and the sodium content of your chicken stock. The chicken stock will cook down so the saltiness will intensify as it cooks. This is very important especially if you are using a salty cheese like Parmesan and also why I do not add any salt, if any, until the end of cooking a risotto. I keep an organic chicken bouillon in the refrigerator which calls for 1 tsp per cup of water. In order to cut down on making the risotto too salty I only add 2 tsp to the 3 cups of water. Stir the stock and rice frequently until most of it has absorbed into the rice and then add another cup. Continue this process until you have added 3 cups of liquid. When the third cup of chicken stock has absorbed into the rice give it a taste test and the rice should be cooked completely. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and then turn down the heat to medium low. Add 2-3 Tablespoons of cambozola cheese and stir until it melts. Put the mushrooms into the rice, stir, and enjoy.

6 cremini mushrooms
3 T of organic butter
1 cup of aborio rice
1/2 cup of white wine
3 cups of chicken stock
2-3 T of cambozola cheese

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