In my mind, this dish is probably one of the most archetypal and beautiful mushroom dishes of all time. The creamy rice and the nutty parmesan complement the earthy sweetness of the chanterelles. Then there’s that fruity apricot note to the chanterelle that pairs perfectly with a spritz of acid from a nice squeeze of lemon or drizzle of white wine vinegar in the pan to finish the shroom saute. The acid then cuts right back into the rich creaminess to round out the dance of the flavors. All that happens in just one bite of this dish.
1 lb of chanterelles
1 medium sized yellow onion, diced
6 tbsp butter
2 c parmesan cheese (grated)
2 c Arborio rice
half lemon (or balsamic white wine vinegar)
Salt and pepper
Serves 4 with leftovers
In a medium pot, fill with a quart of water and add a tbsp of salt, and heat on a backburner on medium.
Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium in dutch oven or deep sauce pan. Add onions to the pan. Cook until onions have softened, add 1 tbsp more oil, and then add rice. Stir rice as it cooks until it becomes translucent on the exterior. Next, begin adding water about a cup at a time and stir consistently as water is absorbed by the rice. This step should take about 5 to 10 minutes.
In adjacent pan while onions are getting started, heat a tablespoon of olive oil on medium high heat. Once oil is hot, add garlic. After a minute drop all the mushrooms into the pan and turn the heat down to low-medium. Stir mushrooms occasionally and revert attention back to the risotto.
*steps 3 through 6 all kind of happen simultaneously, so read ahead and think about timing--if worried you worried about burning something it's best to go low and slow
Keep adding water and stirring the risotto until the water is absorbed then add more. About a cup at a time. The more water is absorbed by the rice and its starches are released, the stickier it will become and the faster it will begin to brown and eventually stick to the bottom of the pan if not careful.
After about 20 minutes of this, taste a couple rice kernels. Once they no longer are crunchy in the center but have become slightly chewy they are close to done. The transition is slow from undercooked to overcooked, but do be careful not to result in rice that is too soft or mushy. A little bit of firmness in the center of the rice is good. On the other note, you also don’t want the risotto to end up being too dense; once the risotto is to the texture you want, add just enough water to get the mixture to just a little bit thinner than the consistency desired for the final risotto (as it cools and after cheese is added it will thicken).
Next add 4 tbsp butter and the parmesan cheese, setting aside some for sprinkling on top at the table if you’d like. Stir together and taste, salt if needed and stir further.
Once mushrooms have reduced in size by about a third, add 2 tbsp of butter and stir until butter has melted and is coating the mushrooms. Then sprinkle the a generous pinch or two of sea salt. Allow to reduce another third and turn heat to low. Flake a few sprigs of thyme over the mushrooms.
Spoon the risotto into pasta bowls and spoon the mushroom mixture on top. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over the top or add a dash of balsamic vinegar (white or red) for a little acidity. Add red pepper flakes if you like a little spice. Enjoy!