Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shiitake Mushroom, Acorn Squash and Leek Risotto

I stole most this recipe from Saveur although they called for clams and since I don't do seafood I substituted shiitake mushrooms. I thought they would have the same chewy consistency of clams but a much more appealing flavour to me. Also use whatever kind of squash you have, I didn't have a butternut but I had acorn and a couple other unidentifiable types that I bought for my Halloween centre piece. Use whatever it doesn't make that much difference, some squashes are sweeter, some are more bitter, either way you can balance out the flavour with the stock. the wine or the cheese.

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1/2 lb. acorn squash, peeled, seeds and strings removed,
and squash cut into dice no larger than 1/2"
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated, drained & finely chopped
2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large or 2 medium leeks, trimmed, washed, halved lengthwise,
then cut crosswise into very thin slices
2 tbsp. scallions, white part only, cut into very thin rounds

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 cup chicken stock

Fine sea salt
1 tbsp. chopped fresh marjoram, or 1/2 tbsp. dried marjoram
1 cup Italian risotto rice, such as carnaroli, vialone, nano,
baldo, or arborio
1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese

Turn oven on to 350°. Lay the diced squash in a baking dish that can contain it all without overlapping. Salt liberally. Pour in 1/2 cup water and put dish in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes. When cool, drain, then set aside.

Pour 6 cups of water into a saucepan and bring it to a steady simmer.

Pour oil into a heavy 4–6-quart saucepan, add leeks and scallions, and turn on heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring from time to time, until leeks and scallions are very pale gold. Add garlic & stir. Add in chopped shiitake mushrooms and stir. Add half the squash together with some salt and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, turning it from time to time. Add marjoram and stir all the ingredients together. Add rice, turning it to coat well.

Add half the wine, steadily stir the rice, and when all the wine has bubbled away, add the remaining half. Continue stirring to keep rice moving away from bottom and sides of pan.

Add the chicken stock to the risotto. Continue to stir until all the liquid has evaporated, then add a ladleful or two of the simmering water. Stir constantly, adding simmering water by the ladleful whenever the rice begins to dry out, threatening to stick to the pan. In about 15 minutes, when the rice is still hard and chalky to the bite, stir in the remaining squash. Continue to cook, stirring steadily and replenishing the water when necessary, until rice has lost its chalky consistency and is tender, but still firm, to the bite. Do not let rice dry out completely when you are near the end, keeping its final consistency loose and flowing.

Add grated pecorino. Remove pan from heat and stir vigorously. Taste and correct for seasoning. Serve at once.

This makes a hefty serving for about 4 people, although I make this for just Ian and I and then then next day I'll make risotto balls. Hang tight for that recipe!