WILD RICE, MUSHROOM AND SQUASH "RISOTTO" (FUSION)
An article in last week's New York Times food section about using native American produce for autumn feasts inspired me last night to create a variation on a wild-rice risotto with winter squash, based on a recipe by Larry Forgione, proprietor of NYC's excellent "An American Place."
It's a somewhat labor-intensive recipe, but it's not quite as complicated as it seems; I got it on the table from a standing start in less than 90 minutes.
I stuck fairly close to Forgione's ingredients but went crazy with wild mushrooms and also altered the procedure somewhat to maintain a fresher and less cooked-to-death quality. Here's my version, which despite the absence of meat made a hearty single-dish dinner and went very nicely with a dry red table wine, the Languedoc Minervois reported in Tasting Notes.
1/2 ounce dried morel mushrooms
1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 medium fresh portabello mushroom
6 medium white domestic mushrooms
2/3 cup wild rice (I used a mix of wild rice and mixed brown rices from Lundberg Farms)
1 small butternut squash
1 scallion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup Arborio rice
5 cups light chicken stock (2 cups rich stock and 3 cups water)
2 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Cook the wild rice and set aside. Soak the dried morels and porcini mushrooms in 2 cups warm water for 30 minutes, then drain (straining the soaking water through paper towels and reserving), rinse and chop coarsely. Cut the portabello into bite-size pieces. Sautee the morels, porcini and portabello in 1 tablespoon of the butter, then simmer them for a few moments in 1/2 cup of the mushroom liquid, reserving the rest. Mix the cooked mushrooms and the wild rice together and set aside.
Peel the butternut squash, and cut out and discard the seeds and pulp. Chop part of it into about 3/4 cup of small dice and set aside. Cut the rest into large cubes, simmer them in boiling salted water until soft, and then mash them into a puree (about 1 cup) and set aside.
Mix the remaining mushroom liquid with the chicken broth and bring to a slow simmer on a back burner. Place a large saucepan on the burner in front of it, and sautee the onions and garlic in the olive oil until they're soft but not browning. Add the butternut squash dice and the scallions, and stir once or twice. Add the Arborio rice, stir once or twice, and then add two ladles full of the simmering broth. Continue in the standard procedure for risotto, stirring constantly and adding broth periodically in small amounts to keep the rice swimming but not drowning, until it's tender and creamy -- about 25 minutes if all goes well.
When the rice is almost finished, stir in the reserved squash puree and the reserved wild-rice and mushroom mixture. Stir gently to blend, then remove from heat and stir in the Parmigiano and remaining 1 tablespoon butter, with salt and pepper to taste.
The combined earthy flavors are delicious and remarkably wine-friendly. And it's not as complicated as it sounds. No, really!