Two Years Ago: Orange Pecan Salmon with Three Pea Salad
As a former food company marketer, I have a pet peeve about recipes looking the way they should if you followed the recipe exactly - not prettied up just for publication. I was attracted to the picture of this recipe, which looked much like the one above but it didn't match the recipe. As written, the mushrooms were supposed to be cooked in the risotto and the peas stirred in at the end, which would definitely not showcase either ingredient on top of the rice. So I re-wrote the recipe to match the image and was happy with the results - particularly with the nutty, caramelized cremini mushrooms. This is a very satisfying dish although it's vegetarian, but you could always add cooked chicken or Italian sausage if you prefer. It has a light, springtime feel with the peas and chives that could be accented even further if you wanted to add some asparagus. And it's a one-pot meal, even better.
Stirring risotto does take some time, but I find it oddly soothing especially if you've had a hard day. And it only takes about 30 minutes to stir, which isn't bad. Start by cleaning and trimming the mushrooms, then cut them into wedges through the stem - four, six or eight wedges, depending on the size of the mushroom, to end up with pieces that are roughly even in size.
The mushrooms are cooked first to achieve the nutty brown caramelization - they give up their water and shrink considerably during the process. Don't be tempted to stir continuously, just let them brown before turning over to brown on the other side.
After the mushrooms are browned, they're removed and you start adding layers of flavor to the risotto with shallot, garlic, wine, rice, chicken broth and Gruyere cheese. Some of the peas get stirred in at the end, and some go on top with the mushrooms and chives. Easy, light and delicious for (almost) spring.
Mushroom & Pea Risotto
8 oz cremini mushrooms, cleaned and stems trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if necessary
1 large shallot, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 qt chicken stock
¾ cup Arborio rice
¼ cup white wine
¾ cup frozen peas, thawed
½ cup grated Gruyere cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish
Cutting the mushrooms into wedges through the stem (like a pie), cut small ones into four pieces, medium into six pieces, and large mushrooms into 8 pieces so all pieces are roughly the same size. At the same time, heat the chicken stock in a saucepan to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to maintain a simmer.
In a large sauté pan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté on the first side without stirring until browned, about 4-5 minutes, then turn and sauté on a second side until browned, another 4 minutes or so. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Turn the heat down to medium and add shallots and garlic to the same pan, adding a small amount of more olive oil if the pan seems dry, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the rice and let toast for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wine and stir well. Cook until the wine is absorbed and the pan is almost dry, about 2 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add one large ladle (about 1 cup) of the simmering chicken stock to the rice and stir continuously until the broth is absorbed and the pan is almost dry. Add another ladle of stock and continue stirring until almost dry once more. Continue the process until all the stock is absorbed and the risotto is creamy, about 25-35 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Add half of the peas and the grated Gruyere to the risotto and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on two individual plates or in shallow bowls, then top with the remaining peas, the mushrooms, and chives for garnish. Serve immediately.