Sunday, March 14, 2010

Not So Hotto Risotto

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.
When we initially saw this challenge we were a bit nervous, since one of us just doesn’t like risotto. (The other half of Monkeyshines in the Kitchen has no such aversion, so there was at least some reason to take on the challenge). Nevertheless, we embarked on the challenge with enthusiasm; unfortunately, it just didn’t really come together for us.
We found some really nice mushrooms at our local Farmers’ market, which inspired us to make a mushroom risotto. We usually buy some sort of mushroom from these folks (Far West Fungi) every week, and the risotto offered us the opportunity to try some varieties that we don’t normally use.
We ended up with -
tree oysters: mushrooms_0012

pioppini: mushrooms_0008

black trumpets:mushrooms_0015

- and finally some regular brown and white field mushrooms to make the stock. We started on the stock by roasting some onion, carrot and celery in the oven, until they were soft and just starting to get charred. We also sautéed the field mushrooms, then simmered all of the vegetables over a low heat for a couple of hours to give a light brown broth.
It was mushroomy and good; we purposely under-seasoned the broth so as not to make the final risotto too salty: however, in the final analysis I think that inadequate seasoning may have been one of the main problems with our creation.
We used Arborio rice and followed the challenge recipe – first coating the rice and onions in oil, then gradually adding the stock, making sure it was fully absorbed after each ladleful. The tree oysters, pioppini and some of the black trumpets were sautéed first, then added to the rice near the end of the cooking time.
Top left: Mushroom medley; top right: mushroom broth
Bottom left: rice and onions; bottom right: sautéed mushrooms

The final product certainly looked the part, with separate yet saucy grains of rice. We served it with some additional sautéed black trumpets on top and a few shavings of parmesan cheese. The taste? Unfortunately, even the risotto-loving Monkey found it to be a bit bland, and the texture wasn’t quite right – the rice seemed to be cooked all the way through, but didn’t have that soft creaminess that characterizes really good risotto.
Oh well – onwards and upwards. To Eleanor and Jess – honestly, this was a really good idea for a challenge, sorry we didn’t really do it justice.


  1. Hey, next time will be better, right? You guys gave it a go, and it looks fantastic =D.

  2. Hum, amazing mushrooms. Beautiful pictures. I'm sure your risotto wasn't that bad. Couldn't be, you did it right. Looks so nice!

  3. I love the pictures of the mushrooms! Your risotto looks good, even if you didn't like the final outcome.

  4. Sorry to hear that it wasn't up to speed but I love all the different mushroom pictures and the final risotto looks fabulous - maybe some more salt does wonders? Great effort on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.