Who doesn’t enjoy a creamy dish of risotto fragrant with the earthy scent of the forest. Ladened with butter and kissed with golden saffron threads, what more do you need on a cold winter’s night? Imagine sitting fireside with a glass of wine and a warm bowl of Morel Risotto. Elegant, yet uncomplicated Morel Risotto is sure to impress your most discerning dinner guest.
The inspiration for this risotto was the result of one of my necessary, yet dreaded trips to Costco. Ambling up and down the crowded isles, bleary eyed and trying to avoid the customers huddling around sample vendors, I stumbled upon some organic dried morels, and quickly added them to my already overflowing shopping cart.
Risotto is sometimes perceived as a difficult or complex dish to prepared yet nothing could be further from the truth. As with most true Italian dishes, the preparation is actually quite uncomplicated, relying on top quality ingredients and a straightforward methodology.
Mis en place it the key with risotto, once you have the groundwork under control it merely takes 18 to 20 minutes until serving. Stirring the mixture, in my humble opinion, is the only way to achieve the perfect texture for properly cooked risotto, although many contemporary chefs may disagree. As my mentor and friend Giuliano Bugialli would say “The risotto does not wait for you, you wait for the risotto”, meaning it must be served immediately once it is prepared.
Morels soaked & drained, remaining ingredients measured and prepped, stock warming, table set and of course the wine poured as you begin the process. Morel Risotto is the ideal dish for two or for a small dinner party. Having the ingredients organized is not only essential but makes this an approachable dish for dinner guests to help with.
So why not warm you heart and soul during the last few weeks of winter with Morel Risotto. If dried morels are not available, substitute another flavorful dried mushroom or a combination of dried and fresh mushrooms.
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- 2 ounces of dried morel mushrooms
- 3½ to 4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, depending upon dietary requirements
- 6 Tbs. unsalted European butter
- 3 - 4 shallots finely chopped - about ½ cup
- 1½ cups Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano rice
- ½ cup dry white wine, preferably Italian wine
- ½ tsp. saffron threads
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ⅔ cup of freshly grated Parmigiano, Parmigiano for the table
- Place 2 plus cups of fresh water in a pot and bring to a boil.
- The dried morels or other dried mushrooms should be placed in a ceramic or glass bowl large enough to accommodate the mushrooms and the two cups of boiling water.
- Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the mushrooms, placing a smaller plate on top of the morels as they will float to the top. As the submerged mushrooms rehydrate, enjoy the woodsy aroma that will fill your kitchen.
- Set a fine strainer over a bowl and remove the rehydrated mushrooms squeezing them over the strainer to extract any water. Some of the mushrooms will be larger than other, cut into pieces to approximately the same size in that case.
- Line a fine strainer with a clean chessecloth and pass the mushroom liquid through the cheesecloth lined strainer, you should have 2 cups, if you do not add enough fresh water to makeup the difference.
- Arrange the butter, finely chopped shallots, grated cheese, saffron threads, sea salt and pepper mill along side the cooktop.
- Heat the 4 cups of broth along with the mushroom liquid in a saucepan on a simmer.
- Heat a heavy duty medium sized pot, I generally use a Le Creuset, over medium-low heat, add the butter to melt. Once the butter has melted, add the finely chopped shallots and sauté on Medium-low heat for 5 minutes, you are softening the shallots not browning them.
- Add the rehydrated morels to the pan and continue to saute for an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently to insure that they all have absorbed some of the butter and become flavored by the shallots.
- Add the rice and continue to stir, taking care that the rice has been coated with the butter and glistens.
- Add the white wine, stirring well & cooking for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Begin to incorporate the warmed stock, starting with about 1 cup. Stir the mixture, gently simmering over low heat until the stock has been almost completely absorbed. Continue to add the heated stock about 1 cup at a time in the same manner. Once the rice mixture seems to have almost absorbed all of the liquid, add more. Continue until the rice is cooked through however maintains an al dente quality. Remove from the heat, add the grated Parmigiano stirring well and serve in warmed individual bowls immediately.
I’ve always found risotto to be quite an elegant dish and perfect for a romantic meal and I’m definitely in agreement with your mentor…risotto must be savoured as soon as it’s ready! It looks delicious Paula and I love the addition of morel mushrooms!
Grazie Marisa, risotto lends itself to taking on just about any flavor one can imagine as you well know. Our weather here recently really calls for food that warms the heart & soul.
I love morels and I can’t believe you found them at Costco! Risotto is such a heartwarming dish.
It was a major coup Janie, I am just sorry I did not buy more. Heartwarming it is, and with the weather here lately, a welcome dinner.
Thanks so much for reading Rena!!
This looks marvelous. Mushroom risotto is perhaps my very favorite kind. And this one reminds me that I haven’t had morels in ages… not sure that I’ve seen them around these parts. Will need to be on the lookout.
The earthy scent of mushrooms transports me to another world Frank. Perhaps you may need to try mail ordering some or substituting porcini.
Ciao Chow Linda says
Your post brings back memories. My brother was an expert mushroom forager and used to bring me morels when he was alive. I made them with a risotto for him and the sweet memory lingers.
What would we do without Costco?
It is presently 630 in the morning in Montreal and suddenly I am craving risotto!!! This looks absolutely amazing Paula!
I have pinned to try… thanks for sharing yet another masterpiece ♥
Oh how I agree…Costco is a necessary part of our lives today. Grazie Maria for your kind words and of course pinning the recipe.