Mondays. In order to make it through to the rest of the week you have to get through Monday. For me Monday usually means gigantic loads of laundry ( including hand scrubbing dirty football uniforms) and my weekly volunteer shift at the YMCA. Finally, it ends in a late dinner made with the odds and ends left in the refrigerator from the weekend. I keep a pretty well stocked pantry so the Monday night dinner rush isn’t so crazy and soul sucking.
Risotto is the Perfect Quick Dinner
While many would argue with the above statement, risotto really should take less than an hour to make. That’s not exactly ‘fast food’ to most people but for me it’s about more than just time. There’s something so therapeutic about standing near the stove, stirring, and watching the risotto take form. It actually calms me down after a busy day. The ingredients in this Porcini Mushroom and Black Garlic Risotto can be kept in your pantry for risotto emergencies. I think I surprised everyone when I threw this dish on the table at 8:30 Monday night.
Do You Know the Mushroom Man?
It was such a treat to have Porcini mushrooms in the fridge Monday night. They were there because I visited the Mushroom Man. You might then inquire incredulously, “Do you know the Mushroom Man?” to which I would reply, “Yes, I know the Mushroom Man” and so on.
Well the story is that I do know the mushroom man. His name is Keith and at the time of this post he ran a shop called Fifth Element Fine Foods. The day he posted that he had freshly foraged Porcini mushrooms, I just had to go buy some.
Common Fall Foraged Mushrooms
Porcini Mushrooms are just something that you don’t find fresh everyday. In the fall season commonly foraged mushrooms include Porcini, Cauliflower, Fried Chicken Mushrooms, Yellow and White Chanterelles, Matsutake (Pine Mushrooms), and Lobster mushrooms. All of these mushrooms are shipped to Keith within 24-36 hours of being picked so that you get the freshest wild mushrooms as possible, that is unless you go pick them yourself.
Life is Full of Interesting Ingredients, Try Some!
Though his focus is mainly mushrooms and truffles, Keith stocks some really delicious hard to find gourmet items such as fresh wasabi, ramps, samphire, Nefiss Lezziz olives, oils and vinegars, assorted grains and lentils, and black garlic. I’ve been eyeing the black garlic for some time now and as I wasn’t sure of the flavour or texture of it I didn’t buy any until this weekend. Keith mentioned he was bringing some of the mushrooms home for a risotto and I decided that I would do the same but also try cooking with the black garlic.
What the Heck is Black Garlic?
Admittedly, black garlic does not look appetizing. It’s black, smells a bit funky, and is quite sticky. All the nuances of fresh garlic have been replace by a sometimes sweet/sour (think tamarind or tomato paste) umami rich substance. The darkness and specialized flavour of black garlic is a result of the lengthy cooking process. Garlic Bulbs are kept in a humidity-controlled environment at temperatures that range from 60 to 77 °C (140 to 170 °F) for 60 to 90 days. During this time, the enzymes within become broken down and new flavour compounds are produced through slight fermentation (depending on the temperature and humidity) and the Maillard reaction. Check out this article on Black garlic: A critical review of its production, bioactivity, and application for an interesting read.
Monday Night Dinner Becomes a Hit
When I called the kids to dinner both of them picked up on the scent of the black garlic right away. It’s not like the scent is offensive or anything but they could tell I had added a ‘different’ ingredient to our Monday risotto. They said it smelled a bit sweeter than usual. When I tasted it, I did think the caramelized garlic was a bit sweet but also that it had an almost fermented umami property as well (though it isn’t fermented at all).
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Risotto Recipes from Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen
Porcini Mushroom and Black Garlic Risotto
Porcini Mushroom and Black Garlic Risotto
- Olive Oil
- 4 tbsp onions; finely diced
- 1 1/4 cup arborio rice
- 1/4 cup white wine; preferably Italian style
- 3 black garlic cloves; chopped
- 4 1/2 cups hot chicken stock (VEGAN- veggie stock)
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup grana padano; grated (VEGAN- 4 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes)
- 4 cups fresh Porcini Mushrooms
- Start with a generous glug of olive oil and about 4 tablespoons of finely diced onions in medium-hot saucepan.
- After the onions become translucent add the arborio rice and stir so that all the grains are coated.
- Add a generous splash of white wine and allow alcohol to cooked off.
- Add the chopped black garlic cloves.
- Add a cup of hot stock and reduce heat slightly. Allow time for the stock to cook down, stirring occasionally, then add another 1/2 cup of stock. Repeat.
- When half of the stock has been used , test a grain of rice. If it's done, it will still have form but not be grainy in any way.
- If it's not ready, continue adding stock, stirring, and cooking down until the rice is the proper texture.
- Before your last stock additon, add the frozen peas.
- As your risotto has reached the preferred texture, remove from heat and stir in the grana padano
- Sauté the porcini mushrooms in a pan of hot butter or olive oil.
- Plate the Black Garlic Risotto, season with salt and pepper and top with mushrooms.