Hubby used most of a chicken making pho this weekend, which naturally generated rather a lot of nice, rich chicken stock. What else to do with beautiful rich stock than risotto? (I do feel that I am mildly predictable on that score at times). We also had giant mushrooms in the fridge, which are quite a rare find in the grocery store. Maybe it is having read Babar Learns to Cook a few too many times recently to Little One, but the large mushrooms immediately told me to stuff them. Both seemed like good ideas, so I decided to couple them up and serve the mushrooms on the risotto. Unsure what to stuff the mushrooms with, Hubby pointed out that we had a very lovely, if somewhat lonely, aubergine in the fridge, so that became the stuffing. The rest, as they say, is history (well, half of it is anyway. the other half is waiting to become a very tasty leftover dinner sometime in the next couple of days, at which point it too will become history.)
For the Risotto:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
300 g arborio rice
2 1/2 c chicken stock
a pinch of saffron
1 tsp (ish) dried orange peel
1 - 1/2 c parmesan
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Mushrooms:
5 large stuffable mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 head garlic, sliced
1/2 aubergine, cubed
200g chopped tinned tomatoes
1 c red wine
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp rosemary
1/4 c millet
Salt and pepper to taste
1) Start the risotto. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Sauté onions and garlic for about 3 minutes, then add the rice. Stir occasionally, allowing the rice to become translucent in the oil.
2) Add the saffron and orange peel and about half of the chicken stock. Stir regularly, and keep it on medium heat. When the liquid is most of the way absorbed, add the rest of the stock and continue stirring.
3) Meanwhile, heat the oil for the mushroom filling in a small frying pan. Sauté the onions and garlic. While they are starting to sweat, cut up the aubergine and the mushroom stalks. After a couple of minutes, add these and the rosemary to the pan. Stir, cooking over medium heat.
4) Cook the mushroom filling for about 5 minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes, about half the wine, and the spices.
5) When the tomato mix has reduced a bit. add the millet and the rest of the wine. Cook for a further 5 - 10 minutes until the liquid is most of the way absorbed. When this has happened, fill the mushroom cups with the tomato mix. Set aside.
6) Use 1 tbsp of the butter to grease an ovenproof dish. Stir most of the parmesan, finely grated, into the risotto, and test a grain of rice. If it is almost cooked, make sure there is still a little liquid, adding a little stock or water if necessary, and pour into the prepared dish. Place the mushroom cups on top and spoon remaining filling around the cups on top of the risotto. Dot with the remaining tbsp of butter and the remaining cheese, either thinly sliced or grated.
7) Bake at 180°C for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden, and the rice and mushrooms are fully cooked through. Serve piping hot.
I wasn't sure how all the flavours would play together, but I needn't have worried. It was a big hit with all of us and I look forward to the leftovers. The mushrooms had a lovely nutty depth of flavour, while the warm spice notes of the sauce, contrasted with the acidity of the tomatoes created a nice balance.
A minor problem though, that hubby assures me isn't an issue, is that the risotto was perhaps a little bland. I specifically didn't want to over flavour it and have it compete with the mushrooms, but it could have had a little more going for it. It was nice and creamy though. This could easily be made with vegetable stock, making this vegetarian, and for a fancier look, it could be cooked in individual ramequins. All in all, though, I am very happy with this one.