Wild mushroom risotto

Let me start this post by saying 2 things:

  1. We are extremely blessed that gluten is our son’s only issue.  I have been talking with other moms who deal with multiple food allergies, and I can’t imagine trying to deal with removing wheat AND X, Y, or Z from our diet at the same time.  We can still eat eggs.  We can still eat nuts (which are in MANY GF products).  We can still have milk.  This could be so much harder.
  2. Piggybacking on #1, I am so thankful that we have a good eater on our hands.  Our kiddo will try anything at least once and will usually eat whatever I put in front of him.  He definitely loves his chicken nuggets and fries, and he was extremely sad when I told him we couldn’t get Chick-Fil-A nuggets last week, but he also eats salad, veggies, and fruit whenever they are served.  I know other celiac moms who struggle to get GF food into their kiddo.  I am beyond thrilled that isn’t our problem.

Rice is naturally gluten free, so when I was looking for a comfort food to make for dinner tonight, wild mushroom risotto seemed to be the perfect answer!  I’ve made this dish for years but haven’t actually made it in at least 3, so tonight was a great refresher.  Ina Garten’s recipe is the bomb.

Start off by rehydrating 1 oz of dried morel mushrooms in 2 cups of boiling water.  I have tried to cheap out and use other dried mushrooms before, but it just doesn’t turn out the same.  The morels are $17 an ounce at Kroger, but when you’re making this dish, they are SO WORTH IT.  Let the mushrooms steep for 30 minutes, and then strain the mushroom stock through a coffee filter into a fresh glass.  This step removes any dirt or grit that has fallen off the mushrooms.  If you don’t have 2 cups of stock left over (and I never do since the mushrooms absorb some of the liquid), add water to make 2 cups.

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While the mushrooms are steeping, wash 1 pound of cremini mushrooms and then thickly slice.  Alton Brown says you can wash mushrooms without issue, and after trying both the dry swipe and the rinse in the sink, I agree with him.  Nobody likes dirt in their risotto!

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Mince 3 shallots and set aside.  I know these aren’t minced, but they looked much cooler here than after I minced them.

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Add 2-3 oz of pancetta.  Our dietician warned us to be careful about deli meats containing gluten.  I was thrilled to find this package at Kroger with a clearly marked “gluten free” on the front label.  I obviously went with 3 oz since I love bacon.

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Add the 2 cups of mushroom stock to 4 cups of chicken stock; bring to a boil and then keep at a simmer.  This has been my favorite boxed chicken stock for the last 6 years.  I always buy the unsalted version so that I can control the amount of salt that goes into the dish.  Lucky for us, this stock is gluten free!!  Not all stocks are, so if you’re avoiding gluten, be sure to read the label.
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Squeeze the morels dry and coarsely chop any large ones.

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If you’re smarter than I am, you’ll also have a bottle of dry white wine ready to go.  You only need 1/2 cup for this recipe.  I forgot it until I started to assemble the dish, so I had to run to Kroger.  I ended up purchasing a bottle of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.  Hubs and I each had a glass with dinner — such a great compliment to the dish!

Now it’s time to get cooking!  Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large Dutch oven (Le Creuset was definitely an investment, but I’ve used it more times than I can count with reliable results every time.  I LOVE mine.).  Add shallots and pancetta; cook for 5 minutes until the pancetta starts to take on a more cooked appearance.  (This is the point where hubs called out from the other room, “Honey, that smells GOOD!!”)

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Next, add the morels and creminis; cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Add in 1.5 cups of arborio rice and stir well to coat the rice with the remaining butter; this is my favorite brand — grown in Texas!

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Add your 1/2 cup of wine and cook for 2 minutes.  This is a great chance to pick up any yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  This is also a good time to add salt and pepper to taste (1 tsp kosher salt and several grinds of fresh black pepper).

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Remember the chicken-mushroom stock you’ve been simmering?  Now’s the time to use it.  Add 2 ladles of the stock at a time, and stir stir stir!!  Initially, the risotto will absorb the liquid very quickly, and when your wooden spoon begins to drag across the bottom of the dutch oven without any liquid trailing behind it, it’s time to add another 2 ladles of stock and stir some more.  You have to stir risotto frequently and definitely don’t ignore it!  Mine typically takes 20-25 minutes to absorb all the stock, and I keep the burner on low the entire time because my range tends to run hot (Ina suggests cooking at medium low).

After the last addition of stock is absorbed, take the risotto off the heat.  Add 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese and mix well.  Spoon up and feed to your happy family.  Bask in the rich, carb-y goodness that is this amazing gluten free risotto.  Enjoy the compliments your family lavishes upon you, and thank God that this dish made enough for leftovers for tomorrow as well.

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