In a kitchen somewhere in Italy sits a sauce-splattered cookbook that contains pages and pages on risotto and its myriad subtleties and variations. I would like to read all that someday. Until that day, though, I'm happy to gush about this dish right here and now. Cooking risotto is an absolute joy. It’s got it all: the sound of the wine hitting the hot pan, the smells as you add each successive ladle of stock, the feeling of the risotto thickening, and the sight of the dish transforming into something beautiful right before your eyes. Like any good recipe, it seems part magic trick.
The fun part about risotto is that it’s messy. There is no perfect amount of stock to use here, no perfect amount of rice. I’ll typically eyeball it, measuring out rice in handfuls per person. I’ll cover my bases by using plenty of good quality vegetable stock, enough that the rice absorbs enough stock before I run out. I’ve measured out all amounts carefully in this recipe, though, just to be sure.
If you want great tips about foraging for chanterelles in Newfoundland, be sure to check out this post.
2 stalks celery, chopped lengthwise and finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
750 mL (3 ¼ cups) vegetable stock
200 g (7 oz) Arborio rice (about 4 handfuls)
50 g (1 ¾ oz or about ½ cup) Parmesan cheese, finely grated (or another mature hard cheese)
45 g (3 tbsp) unsalted butter, warmed to room temperature
grated zest of half a lemon
small bunch Italian parsley
120 mL (½ cup) dry white wine
20 g (¾ oz) dried porcini or other dried mushrooms (about 2 handfuls)
400 g (14 oz) fresh chanterelles, cleaned by brushing (do not rinse)
In a medium saucepan, heat your vegetable stock to a simmer and turn heat to lowest setting.
Put the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and add enough hot water to cover them. Set aside to soak for about 10 minutes. Drain using a sieve, squeezing the mushrooms to remove their liquid; reserving their hot liquid and roughly chop the mushrooms.
Put a large sauté pan on medium heat and add half the butter and 1 tbsp olive oil. When the oil is hot and the butter is foaming but not brown, add the chanterelles. Sauté until nicely browned but no further, about 5 minutes. You might have to sauté them a bit longer if they are large and if they high water content. (If this is the case, transfer the excess liquids from the pan into the bowl of mushroom stock). Remove from the pan and put in small bowl with the juice of half a lemon. Add a ¼ tsp of sea salt and 2 tbsp chopped parsley, mix gently and set aside.
Get started on the risotto. Put the large sauté pan back on a medium heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil. When hot add the celery and onion and stir for until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the risotto rice and stir for about 2 minutes or until all the rice is coated in oil. Now add the wine (it should hiss) and cook for 2 minutes or until the rice has just soaked up the wine. Now turn down the heat to medium-low and add your roughly chopped rehydrated mushrooms along with its strained juices. Stir until the rice has fully absorbed the juices.
Add the first ladleful of stock and stir until absorbed by the rice. Continue like this, adding one ladleful at a time, stirring all the while. When all the stock is used up, remove from the heat and add half the sautéed chanterelles, ¾ tsp of salt, 2 tbsp of lemon juice, lemon zest, most of the grated parmesan, and the remaining butter. Stir well, cover, and set aside for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if you want, and some black pepper.
To serve, spoon the risotto into shallow bowls and top with the remaining lemon-soaked sautéed chanterelles and the remaining Parmesan.