Mushrooms: the fruit of fungi. Not the most appealing description for something edible, but they can create delicious dishes. Mushrooms have three parts: the cap, the gills and the stem. The cap and gills are the most flavorful portions; the stem is commonly discarded or used as a base for mushroom stock. Mushrooms are a great alternative for vegetarians — they serve as a substitute for meat in dishes such as mushroom lasagna, mushroom pizza and mushroom sandwiches, and even taste great just as grilled Portobello caps.
There are many types of edible mushrooms, the most common of which are Portobello (cremini), shiitake, trumpet, oyster, morel, porcini and truffle. Truffles are the most intoxicating of the mushrooms, in my humble opinion. They have a grotesque outward experience, typically a lumpy looking ball. The two classifications are black and white truffles. They have an exquisite, intoxicating-earthy aroma — some even consider truffles to be an aphrodisiac. White truffles typically sell for $1,000 per pound and black truffles for around $500 per pound. While that figure may not typically be in the budgets of college students, there is an inexpensive alternative. Truffle oil regularly sells for $20 for a small bottle, and Di Bruno Bros in Rittenhouse Square is the closest retailer for this product. Truffle oil can make any savory dish wonderful — particularly pizza fungi, macaroni and cheese and risotto.
Risotto is an Italian rice dish that has an extremely creamy consistency. This is achieved through using a short, grain rice with a high starch content. The rice is cooked with small amounts of liquid, added incrementally. As the liquid is added, the rice releases starch, which creates a creamy consistency.
I’m going to give you a fabulous risotto recipe to test the wonders of truffle oil.
- 1 shallot
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 pound assorted mushrooms, chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/3 cup white wine (optional)
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 3 tablespoons Mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- White truffle oil (optional, but recommended)
Place four cups of chicken stock in a small saucepan over low heat. Mince the shallots and garlic finely, then set them aside. Add one tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat.
When the butter has melted, add the minced shallots and garlic. When the shallots are translucent (before the garlic becomes brown) add in the cup of Arborio rice.
Stir the rice until it is translucent and slightly toasted; this should take about two minutes. Add the white wine and stir until absorbed. Continue by adding one cup of chicken stock to the rice, stirring until absorbed.
Add a second cup of chicken stock and stir. Meanwhile, use a medium sauté pan over medium heat with one tablespoon of olive oil to sauté the half pound of mushrooms. Continue to stir your risotto and add a third cup once the second is absorbed. The risotto should have a creamy texture at this point.
Continue to add a little bit of liquid until it is the perfect consistency (creamy and al dente). Turn off the heat; add the three tablespoons of Mascarpone, mushrooms and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. Stir until they’ve melted into the risotto. Finally, plate the risotto, then sprinkle with parsley and drizzle with truffle oil.