Risotto with Leeks, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Truffles

Allow me to introduce you to my favorite new guilty pleasure: Risotto with Leeks, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Truffles.  I was introduced to this dish while perusing the great interwebs for a recipe to make for a little dinner party at our apartment last Thursday.  Dan's boss was our special guest so the dinner was kind of a big deal and I wanted to make something really special.  Dan planned on grilling steaks so my choices were narrowed down from the start.  I knew that this dish was a winner the second I laid eyes on it.  Immediately, my taste buds began to salivate with the thought of the earthy, truffle essence combined with the creamy risotto and the meaty roasted shiitake mushrooms.  There was no doubt in my mind that this was the one.  I muffled out the Chef Ramsey voices in my head screaming out "Who made this risotto?!?! It's raaaaawww!" for I had never made risotto and the thought of it made me a bit nervous.  


But after a bit of research my nerves were quieted when I concluded that making risotto isn't too difficult after all. One writer even described it as meditative and quite relaxing, as you stand at the stove stirring and stirring, adding your liquids a little bit at a time until you reach that perfectly creamy and al dente state signaling that your risotto is complete and ready to be devoured.

I was also head over heals about the fact that this dish required me to purchase white truffle oil- an ingredient we have unfortunately never had the pleasure of owning.  If you can't find truffle oil in your local specialty store or you aren't fortunate enough to have actual truffles at your disposal- like me, I've read reviews where the dish was made without the truffle oil and it was still amazing.  However, for us it was an absolute staple to the dish.  

That evening we picked up all of the ingredients needed and the next day when I awoke, it was the thought of the truffle oil that pulled me out of bed.  I kid you not.  Half of my train ride to work consisted of me dreaming of all of the beautiful things that we could now make in our very own kitchen with my our new treasured ingredient- we could recreate Varga Bar's ridiculously decadent Truffled Mac & Cheese (a flavor bomb of bacon, gruyere, marscapone, fontina and black truffles) and their Jumbo Lump Crab fries composed of white cheddar and parmesan drizzled with truffle oil. I could continue my poached egg obsession by pairing eggs with sliced tomatoes, asparagus and a drizzle of, you guessed it,  truffle oil or by making that delicious dish of Truffled Egg Toast with Fontina Fontal that we had at Tria one chilly afternoon last October a day after we had gotten engaged... make me stop, now!  My day dreaming continued as I pondered the plump asparagus I planned to roast with olive oil and parmesan cheese that evening.  This led me to an article about the first asparagus of the spring which actually caused me to miss my train stop and nearly caused me to be late for work.  I might have a problem.

Later that evening, I got to work.  I chopped and sautéed and simmered all the while dancing to Mumford and Sons and my new favorite band of the moment, First Aid Kit as Heidi and I waited for Dan and his guest to arrive.  By the time they walked in the door I was ready to get to work on the actual risotto.  I added the white wine to the simmering onions, which smelled amazing, and then added the risotto to toast a bit before adding Dan's homemade broth a little at a time, all the while stir-stir-stirring until it was done.  I'm going to take an opportunity to be completely honest here.  I may or may not have put back a few glasses of that chardonnay as I stirred the risotto to somewhat calm my nerves over making this dish and the presence of our dinner guest.  All in all, I think it took me about four full cups of chicken broth to reach the desired al dente state.  (And not to toot my own horn or anything, but I do believe that I got that risotto damn near perfect- chardonnay buzz and all.) I finished the dish by mixing in the creamed leeks, the roasted shiitake mushrooms and the parmesan cheese.  I seasoned the dish to taste with salt and pepper and added a drizzle of truffle oil for good measure.  Why not, right?

The dish was well accepted at the dinner table.  I like to think it worked mighty well with Dan and his boss' steaks, also.  I paired mine with a grilled chicken breast.  The roasted asparagus were the perfect accompaniment to this rather rich dish.

I brought some left overs with me for lunch the next day and honestly think that it was even better that day.  It was so good that it felt wrong as I hovered behind my computer monitor slowly savoring every last bite.  Later that night, I tried to pawn it off on my mom and brother while on a trip to my parents.  I worked it on them as if I were selling actual black market truffles in some seedy alley.  I was a little nuts over this dish.  Now I can't stop thinking about it again.  It's like a sickness - a crazy obsession.  When will I get to make you again, oh delicious risotto?  When will we be together again??



Risotto with Leeks, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Truffles
Originally by Chef Gabriel Rucke of Le Pigeon, in Portland, Oregon.  It was later published in the September 2007 issue of Bon Appétit.

INGREDIENTS:
For the Leeks:
  • large leeks, white and green parts only halved, thinly sliced crosswise
  • ¼ cup whipping cream

For the Mushrooms:
  • lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1/4- to 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup of butter (half a stick), melted
  • tablespoon white truffle oil
  • teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

For the Risotto:
  • 4 tablespoons of butter (half a stick), divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups arborio rice or medium grained white rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • cups hot vegetable or chicken broth (may need more)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • teaspoons shaved or chopped black truffles (optional) 
  • chopped fresh parsley

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. For leeks: Bring leeks and cream to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until leeks are tender and cream is thick, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before continuing.)

  2. For mushrooms: Preheat oven to 400°F Toss all ingredients on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until mushrooms are tender and light brown around edges, stirring occasionally, about 30-45 minutes. (DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

  3. For risotto: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and stir until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup hot broth. Simmer until broth is almost absorbed, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add more broth, 1 cup at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next and stirring often, until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes longer. Stir in leek mixture, mushroom mixture, remaining 1 tablespoon butter, cheese, and truffle. Transfer to large bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.


Note:  I made a few adjustments to this recipe that I feel did not alter the outcome the slightest bit.  Instead of vegetable broth I used chicken broth because I had a very good homemade broth on hand.  I also added a teaspoon or so of truffle oil mixed in at the end to really boost that flavor.  Finally, I topped the dish with more fresh thyme instead of the parsley called for and a drizzle of truffle oil.