Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mushroom Risotto and Old-Fashioneds

Lately I just cannot get enough of mushrooms. I also happen to be a huge fan of risotto, a meal that I feel strikes the perfect balance between seemingly fancy but also really easy to make taste delicious. Also, there are so so many excellent variations. So when I saw this recipe on The Kitchen Sink I knew immediately I had to make it that night. I picked up some Brussels sprouts to accompany the risotto and some bitters and bourbon for some Mad Men style Old Fashioneds, Don Draper's drink of choice.

Mushroom Risotto

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (about two little cartons)
1/2 large onion, diced
2 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or dried thyme, plus more for serving
kosher salt
freshly-ground black pepper
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup freshly-grated parmesan, plus more for serving

1. Melt the butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil a skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned and soft.
2. If the mushrooms get too watery, drain the pan and scrape the mushrooms into a bowl to reserve for later.
3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil.  Add the onion, shallots and garlic, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and softened.
4. Add the arborio, season with salt and pepper, and stir for about a minute.
5. Add the wine, and stir constantly until the rice has absorbed the wine.
6. Warm the vegetable broth. Laddle in about 1/2 cup of broth every time the rice absorbs what's already been added. Slowly but surely the rice will thicken.
7. When the rice is cooked to your taste, add the cooked mushrooms and grated cheese. Serve immediately, with additional fresh thyme and grated cheese, if desired.

Brussels Sprouts 
This recipe was recommended to me by my father.

Small brussels sprouts, however many you desire
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing
fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup parmesan
1. Wash the Brussels sprouts well. Trim the stem ends and remove any ragged outer leaves. Cut in half from stem to top and make a small X in the base of the stem. This is important because the leaves cook faster than the stems which causes the bitterness that most people dislike about Brussels sprouts. This trick maintains the buttery sweetness that makes these veggies utterly delectable.
2. Boil a pot of water and fill a bowl with salted ice water. Blanche the Brussels sprouts for about 3 minutes in the boiling water then drop the in the salted ice water.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in your largest skillet over medium heat. Don't go too hot.
4. Rub the Brussels sprouts with olive oil. Place the Brussels sprouts in the pan flat side down in a single-layer, sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt, cover, and cook for roughly 5 minutes.
5. This is optional: once just tender, uncover, turn up the heat, and cook until the flat sides are deep brown and caramelized. Use a metal spatula to toss them once or twice to get some browning on the rounded side.
6. Season with more salt, a few grinds of pepper, and some grated cheese. Eat immediately if possible and reheat for snacks later.

Now for drinks...


  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • 2 dashes of rhubarb bitters (recommended by the Five Points Bottle Shop guy)
  • ½ tsp sugar dissolved with water and bitters
  • 1½ oz of bourbon
  • 1 cherry (optional)
  • 1 orange slice
  • Some orange juice squeezed in
  • 1 lemon wedge


Fill glass with ice. Add cherry, orange slice and lemon wedge. Pour in bourbon. Serve in a rocks glass over ice.

If you prefer, you could also make a whiskey sour or mint julep using the same bourbon you've already purchased. Salut!

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