Collard and Shiitake Risotto

Yep, you read that right – collards and shiitake mushrooms in risotto.  The same risotto.  Another recipe born entirely of the dregs of the refrigerator.  Here’s the deal. I bought a few things last weekend and then left town on a business trip before I got to all of them.  The survivors were the chopped collards and the majority of the shiitakes.  I also had a little beef broth and the bottom of the arborio rice container.  Sounded enough like dinner to give it a try.

I was fully prepared to report this as an epic failure and finish off the remainder of the Samoas in the fridge in lieu of a real dinner.  No need.  This actually turned out well!  I’m pretty proud of giving this a shot and thinking it through.  Normally with a risotto you cook the rice until it’s just this side of done before you add anything to it.  The thing about collards is that they aren’t good in the “just wilted” stage that is preferable for spinach or swiss chard.  They really need to be cooked, even when they’re chopped pretty small.  So, I sauteed the onions and added the rice and then the wine as usual.  I added the first installment of broth and let that absorb.  Then I added the collards.  So, about half way through the process.  Then I cooked the rice and collards together until all the liquid was absorbed before adding the shiitakes.

One tricky thing about this risotto.  The textures of all of the ingredients are kind of chewy.  And the tastes are all kind of earthy.  To address the texture issue you may want to cook the risotto a little past al dente.  But only a little.  You don’t want it to be gummy.  To balance the tastes of course you’ll add some grated pecorino or parmesano-reggiano cheese.  I also added a little balsamic vinegar to add a little sweet and a little acid all at once.  I usually have vinegar with my collards so it seemed like a good way to go.  Next time I’d probably use cider vinegar instead of balsamic, but I didn’t have any cider vinegar tonight.  Balsamic worked well too.

So, overall this dish far exceeded my barely, or maybe not at all, edible prediction for it.  I wouldn’t call it restaurant worthy just yet, but I think it has potential.  Next time I might add some crumbled hot italian sausage for additional depth and variety.  A solid success.  I’m actually looking forward to the leftovers!

Good? Yep.  Unexpectedly so.
Easy? As easy as any risotto. Just takes time and stirring.
Good for company? Sure.
Special shopping? Clearly not.

Collard and Shiitake Risotto

Ingredients

2 C beef or vegetable broth, heated and kept warm
1 T olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3/4 C arborio rice
1 C dry white wine
1 C lightly packed chopped fresh collards
1 1/2 C fresh shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
2 t balsamic vinegar
3 T freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Directions

Heat broth in a small saucepan and keep warm.
Heat olive oil in a chef’s pan or small soup pot.
Add onion. Saute 2-3 minutes.
Add arborio rice. Stir to coat and saute 2-3 minutes.
Add wine. Stir until wine is almost completely absorbed.
Add 1/2 C broth. Stir until broth is nearly absored.
Stir in collards.
Add remaining broth 1/2 C at a time, stirring after each addition until liquid is almost completely absorbed. Cook until the rice is barely al dente and creamy.
Fold in mushrooms carefully to avoid breaking them.
Stir in vinegar. Stir in grated cheese.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

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