Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cooking a la Alli: Day One

Mike says he is going to cook Chef Alli's recipes in DC at the same time I cook them here, in order to advise me on technique.
Hasn't happened so far.
Since I was on my own, the first recipe I tried was for Mushroom Risotto. I had made risotto before without tragic consequences, so I felt pretty confident. I even already had arborio rice.

The recipe called for "flavorful mushrooms like chanterelle, shitake
or oyster mushrooms."  Safeway carries button mushrooms.

I know button mushrooms. I feel at home with button mushrooms. Button mushrooms are my friends. However, apparently, they are not flavorful.

So I tried the new Sprouts grocery. They had oyster and Portobello mushrooms so that's what I got.

Oyster mushrooms (a.k.a. abalone or tree mushrooms) are weird looking clumps of fungus that grow on trees. I tried to chop them evenly but their stems and caps go in every which direction.

I have eaten Portabello mushrooms many times and enjoy their meaty flavor but I hadn't cooked them before.

At least the mushrooms were clearly marked. I looked all over for shallots. I thought they must be like green onions so I picked up what turned out to be leeks. Don't laugh. It's not nice. When I asked the cashier if I had guessed right, everyone behind me in line snickered.

Shallots look like what you'd get if an onion and a garlic have been naughty in the pantry: stunted brown onions made up of multiple cloves like garlic.

You are supposed to cut them in half lengthwise, lay the cut side down and make horizontal slices -not going all the way through the root. Then make vertical lengthwise slices still not cutting through the root and finally cutting across vertically from the tip through the root.

While I understand that this means the individual lengths stay together, I could not make horizontal slices of the small bulbs without risking slicing my finger.

I sauteed the 'shrooms and shallots in melted butter and then added the rice. The recipe called for white wine and so I had to face The Cork Puller. I ended up pushing the cork into the bottle but Chris drank the rest of the bottle with dinner (tough day) so it was OK.

After the wine had cooked down, I added hot chicken broth a cup at a time, stirring all the while until it was nice and creamy with a little bite. The last step was adding just a little cheese. Delicious and much healthier than my last risotto (which had more than twice as much cheese). So far so good!


1 comment:

  1. Did you like the oyster mushrooms? I saw make them next time with button mushrooms and see if you even notice a difference.