What I love about the French is their willingness to absorb the best of other cuisines—whether specialty dishes or ingredients–into their own culture’s cooking. Today, it’s not uncommon to see lemongrass, yuzu, or burrata featured on Parisian menus. And, the French have their own versions of such all-American favorites as hamburgers, cheesecakes, and crumbles. Creative interpretations of gazpacho and risotto abound as well. In fact, I made my own version of risotto with French accents this past week!
For Winter Risotto with Chanterelles and Pancetta, I sautéed those golden, trumpet-shaped fungi along with brown mushrooms and shallots, then seasoned the mix with fresh rosemary. This risotto, prepared traditionally with arborio rice and simmering stock, took 15 to 20 minutes to cook, but was worth the effort. When done, the sautéed mushrooms were stirred into it along with some Parmigiano Reggiano. For serving I mounded the creamy risotto in shallow bowls and garnished each serving with some haricots verts (which can be optional). A sprinkle of crispy pancetta was the finishing touch.
Although my local Whole Food at home in Massachusetts often sells chanterelles, these special mushrooms are not widely available. I noted in the following recipe that you can substitute shiitakes and oyster mushrooms with good results. Nothing seemed to taste better in Paris this week on a chilly, rainy day than this all-in-one main course of blended ingredients.
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Winter Risotto with Sautéed Chanterelles and Pancetta
8 oz Chanterelles mushrooms or 8 oz mixed mushrooms (See market note)
6 oz brown mushrooms
3 tbsp olive oil plus more if needed
4 tbsp chopped shallots
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
4 oz pancetta cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/ 2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano
5 to 6 ounces haricots verts, cooked (See cooking tip), optional
1. With dampened paper towels, clean both the chanterelles and the brown mushrooms. Trim the tips from the chanterelles' stems if they are tough, then halve (or quarter if large) them lengthwise. Thinly slice the brown mushrooms through the stems.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy skillet set over medium high heat. When quite hot, add the chanterelles and cook 5 minutes. Add the brown mushrooms and shallots and another tablespoon or more of oil if needed. Cook, stirring, until mushrooms are lightly browned and all liquid in the skillet has evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes more. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of the rosemary. Remove mushrooms from skillet and set aside.
3. Use a paper towel to clean the skillet when cool enough to handle. Return it to medium high heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook, turning often, until golden and crisp, 5 minutes or more. Remove to drain on paper towels.
4. Add chicken stock to a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and keep mixture at a gentle simmer.
5. In another large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. When hot, add rice and stir to coat well for 1 minute. With a ladle or measuring cup, add 1/2 cup of the simmering stock to the rice, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until all the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding stock in 1/2 cup amounts, cooking and stirring, until each addition has been absorbed before adding the next. When done, the rice should be creamy but not runny, tender but still a little firm. (You may not need all of the stock.) Add the wine and cook, stirring until absorbed. This whole process should take 15 to 20 minutes.
6. Stir 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese into the risotto, and then the mushrooms. Season it with salt and pepper. Mound risotto in 4 shallow bowls. If using haricots verts, surround each mound with some beans. Sprinkle the pancetta and a little of the remaining Parmesan over the risotto and beans. Sprinkle each serving with remaining rosemary. Pass extra Parmesan in a small bowl. Serves 4
Market note: Some groceries (My Whole Foods, for example) sell packages of mixed sliced wild mushrooms including shiitakes, baby bellas, and oysters. This is a convenient way to buy them. If unavailable, use 6 ounces shiitakes (stems removed and mushrooms sliced) and 2 ounces oyster or baby bellas trimmed and sliced through the stems.
Cooking tip: Blanch haricots verts in a medium pot of boiling salted water. Cook until just tender, 5 to 6 minutes or longer. Transfer to a colander and run cold water over them to stop cooking and set the color. Pat dry. (Beans can be cooked a day ahead. Reheat in a medium skillet coated lightly with olive oil over medium heat, stirring for several minutes.)
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2019