A (New) England Inspired Flavor Combination

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December 11, 2012 by caitlinvaclark

A few weeks before Chris and I moved to London, we took a trip to New England to see some friends and family.  The last morning of our visit to Boston, we had brunch with our friends in Cambridge at the City Girl Café.  They had an omelette special on the menu that was intriguing.  We discussed the risks of ordering an omelette because you never know if your filling will be evenly distributed, how much filling you’ll even get, and whether the egg will be runny in the middle or rubbery on the outside.  In the end, I took the gamble. Knowing that my husband was ordering an egg sandwich with breakfast potatoes and bacon and a side biscuit with sausage gravy, I figured I was safe to snag some of his meal if mine ended up being a bust.  So long story short, BEST OMELETTE EVER!  And my infatuation with the flavor combo of mushroom, sage, and gorgonzola was born.

So for dinner the other night, I attempted to marry these flavors with another cooking obsession of mine- risotto.  This is my second risotto post and I can’t reiterate enough how relaxing I find cooking a risotto after a busy, long day.  The process gives you an excuse to shut out the world for 30 minutes and just chop and stir, all while sipping a glass of wine.  I mean, you have to open a bottle as part of the recipe anyways.

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A side note: many people think that risotto is a bad dish to serve when you are entertaining and I disagree.  One of the beauties of this dish is that you can prep and measure everything in advance and once you get the routine down, like I said, it’s a mindless procedure.  Set out some canapés, fill up the wine glasses, and invite your friends into the kitchen to chat and snack while you stir. Of course, this does work best if you have a large or open floor-plan kitchen. We do not. I can have about two dinner guests in our kitchen before it becomes a bit of a panic room situation.

A “fun” fact about England, they don’t have Swansons Broth, or the like, readily available.  The grocery stores do sell gorgeous home-style stock, but it costs you a pretty pence, so I save that for a special occasion meal and more often use stock cubes or Knorrs Stock Pot starters.  (Of course that is when I don’t have my homemade version stock-piled from Sunday Roasts.)

For this dish, since the broth is the foundation of risotto, but it’s a quick weeknight dinner, I use a stock pot starter with 2 cups of water and then steep the additional 2 cups of water for the broth in dried mushrooms, which will eventually get added to the risotto.

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As luck would have it, I will finish the risotto off with a Mushroom and Sage Olive Oil that I bought on that same New England trip. While in Cape Cod, my husband and I spent a rainy day window shopping in downtown Chatham… his favorite activity, I swear. We came across one of those little oil and vinegar gift shops. You know, the ones where you can sample oils infused with everything from lemon to bacon to lavender. When the honey ginger white balsamic hits my tongue, I’m in dreamland, writing salad recipes in my head while I shop. Of course, Chris sees it a bit differently, more of an over the top unnecessary shop filled with bottles of nightmares on his wallet. We’ll see what he says after this dinner!

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After sautéing the mushrooms and sage, and reserving, begin toasting the arborio rice with onions. Add the wine and cook until it is all absorbed/cooked off. Then you begin slowly ladling the broth, 1/3 cup at a time, only pouring in the next ladle when the broth has been almost completely absorbed, leaving starchy bubbles.

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After all but the last scoop of broth has been added, stir back in the mushrooms, including those infusing the broth (chopped first). Then stir in the blue cheese and remaining broth.

Serve garnished with crumbled cheese and a sage leaf.

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Mushroom, Sage, and Stilton Risotto

Serves 4

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

½ ounce dried wild mushrooms

1 Tbs olive oil

8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced

2 Tbs fresh sage, roughly chopped

1 small onion

1 cup Arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine

2/3 cup crumbled stilton blue cheese, plus more fro garnish

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

½ tsp salt (depending on broth and cheese)

¼ tsp white pepper

Bring the water, broth, and dried mushrooms to a low simmer in a sauce pot.  Keep simmering while you make the risotto.

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet.  Sauté mushrooms until browned, in batches if necessary so that they do not sweat and steam.  This should take about 5 minutes and once done remove and reserve.  Fry the sage in the remaining oil for 2 minutes and then reserve with the mushrooms.

In the same skillet, over medium heat, sauté the onion until soft, then add the Arborio rice and cook for 2 minutes until just toasted.  Add the wine and stir into the rice until absorbed.  Begin adding the broth in the same manner, about 1/3 cup at a time.  Stir rice continually as the liquid is absorbed.  When the rice soaks up most of the liquid and only a bubbly starch remains, add more broth.  Continue 1/3 cup at a time until all but ½ cup of the broth has been added.  Season with salt and white pepper.

Chop the reconstituted mushrooms from the broth. Mix the mushrooms, sage, and cheeses back into the risotto.  Stir in the final broth and serve topped with cheese crumble.

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