I'll probably get my citizenship revoked for even admitting it, but I don't like the winter all that much... especially the cold, damp, slushy weather that passes for winter in Toronto.
I may be Canadian born and bred, but like our namesake geese and retirees from Quebec, my natural instinct is to fly south as soon as the mercury starts to drop. (Unlike the geese and the retirees, however, I have a job that prevents me from actually acting on that instinct.)
As much as I dislike those dreary winter days, though, I absolutely love the kind of food those frosty days tend to inspire.
The lower the mercury plunges, the more I want to hide indoors all day, cooking up hearty winter dishes in a big heavy-bottomed casserole until the light shining through the kitchen window softens into a cozy, steamy blur and the house fills with delicious aromas of long-simmered goodness. Forget tobogganing, snowboarding and ice skating... cooking is my favourite winter sport.
In many ways, risotto isn't really a winter dish, especially since I'm pretty sure I make it more often in spring and summer than I do in the colder months, but it definitely has that warming, substantial sort of quality that I think is essential for winter cooking... especially when flavoured with bolder, earthier sorts of flavours like wild mushrooms and truffles to give it a heft that the lighter, fresher variations from spring and summer usually don't have.
To make this particular risotto, I started off with this month's featured Recipideo from Aurora Importing, which demonstrates just how easy it is to make a creamy risotto with fresh peas. Since it'll be a few more months before fresh peas are in season, I decided to adapt the recipe to make a classic risotto al funghi by flavouring my risotto with rehydrated dried porcinis, subbing a blend of fresh maitake and cremini mushrooms for the peas, and then finished the whole thing off with a small drizzle of black truffle oil for a deep, intense earthiness.
After trudging around in the cold all day taking care of errands and such, it was exactly what I was craving. Soothing and rich, and just a little bit indulgent... and best of all, ready and on the table in just under half an hour. What more could a girl ask for on a slushy winter's day?
(This post is my entry for Aurora Importing's First Friday Recipideo Roundup – this round ends on Jan 3rd, but don't worry if you didn't get a chance to participate... a new challenge is just around the corner. Just subscribe to the Recipideo channel on YouTube to get a heads up when the next Recipideo is posted, then participate by trying out your own spin on their featured video recipe for the month, taking a photo of your finished result, and submitting it online. There’s a $50 gift certificate for Aurora products up for grabs each month!)
- 10g dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup boiling water
- 6-7 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups sliced wild mushrooms
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1½ cups arborio rice
- 3 tbsp cognac
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp black truffle oil
- 4 tbsp fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a small mixing bowl, pour boiling water over dried porcini. Allow the mushrooms to rehydrate completely, about 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring the broth to a boil in a small saucepan set over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and keep at a simmer.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute onion in olive oil for 4-5 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add mushrooms and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes longer, or until mushrooms are lightly browned. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes or until evenly coated with oil. Pour in the cognac and continue cooking, still stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until the cognac is almost completely absorbed.
- Stir in the warm broth, one ladleful at a time, stirring frequently and waiting for the broth to be almost completely absorbed before adding more broth.
- After about 10 minutes, stir in the rehydrated cremini and soaking liquid, and continue stirring until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Continue adding in the warm broth and stirring for 8-10 minutes longer, or until the rice is soft and creamy.
- Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan, butter and truffle oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then spoon into bowls and top with a sprinkle of finely chopped parsley for garnish (or if you're feeling particularly decadent, top with a few shavings of black truffle). Serve immediately.