A couple weeks ago, when Jonah and I made the cleanse chicken, we decided to use the carcass to make some chicken broth. Let me say this: if you own a slow-cooker, and are not using your leftover bones/carcasses to make broth, you are seriously missing out. If you’re going to make chicken breasts, just buy bone in chicken breasts, cook them how you normally would, and then after dinner, throw the bones and scraps into the slow cooker with some onions, carrots, salt, cover it all with water, and cook it on low overnight. You’ll immediately have the beginning of a delicious chicken soup, or in this case, mushroom risotto.
(My roommates made some delicious pork ribs last week, and once they finished eating, Jonah and I told them they should make some broth with the roasted bones. They did, and had about 6-8 cups of broth, and used it to make 2 different dinners post-ribs. Talk about using your ingredients to the fullest!)
Anyway, I knew I had some arborio rice in the cabinet, and was feeling nice and wintry, so I decided to make mushroom risotto. But as I was looking through my cookbooks, I came across a variation on mushroom risotto that included sage and pancetta. I was sold.
Mushroom Risotto with Pancetta and Sage
The Best New Recipe | Serves 4 as a main course
Note: Porcini mushrooms are expensive. If you want to try using some other mushrooms instead, and also using mushroom broth rather than chicken broth to add some of that earthy umami flavor, go for it. You can also easily make this recipe vegetarian by replacing the chicken broth with mushroom broth, and eliminating the pancetta.
Note 2: My camera was dead when I cooked this, so I only have some mediocre iPhone photos. I’m sorry.
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh parsley
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed in a strainer under running water
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 3/4 cup water
4 Tbl butter
1 1/4 lbs cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and cut into quarters (or sixths, if larger)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
2-3 oz pancetta (I went with 3, because I like pancetta)
1 3/4 cups arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp fresh sage leaves
With kitchen twine, tie together the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and parsley sprigs. Put this bouquet in a pot with the porcini mushrooms, broth, soy sauce, and 2 1/2 cups water, and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the mushrooms are fully hydrated. Strain the broth, discard the herb bouquet, and set mushrooms aside. Put the broth back into the pot and keep warm over low heat. Mince the porcini mushrooms, and set aside.
In a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbl of butter. After the butter stops foaming, add the cremini mushrooms, half of the onion, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook for about 7 minutes, until the liquid from the mushrooms has cooked off and the mushrooms are browned, and add the garlic, cooking for a minute until fragrant. Put the cooked mushrooms into a bowl and set aside. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of water to the pan to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, then pour this liquid into the pot with the broth.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the pancetta and 1 Tbl of butter for about 5 minutes, until the pancetta has rendered most of its fat. Add the rest of the chopped onions, and cook until the onions have softened and are translucent. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes, or until the edges of the rice are transparent. Add the wine or vermouth to the pan, and stir, cooking until the liquid has been absorbed. Add the porcini mushrooms and roughly 2 cups of broth (or about 2 ladles full) and cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until the broth is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup or a ladle full of broth every 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding more broth when the previous broth has been absorbed. The risotto is ready when the rice is cooked but has some bite to it at the center of the grain. You may not end up using all of the broth, so be sure to taste frequently for doneness. When the risotto is cooked to your liking, add the cremini mushrooms, the remaining 1 Tbl of butter, the parmesan, and chopped sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and enjoy with a nice glass of wine.
The leftovers are great as they are, but if you’re interested in a little revamp, form little cakes with the leftovers, and fry in some oil over medium heat. Top with a fried or poached egg for best result.