Wikipedia: Risotto is a class of Italian dishes of rice cooked in broth to a creamy consistency
I absolutely love risotto! Especially with mushrooms – let it be chanterelles, porcini or any other kind of good mushroom. Top that with hand picked mushrooms in the forest by yourself – makes it so much tastier and exciting!
Mushroom picking in itself is already an adventure. Spending all of my summers by the forest while growing up kind of got it in my blood. When the mushroom season begins, I just have to spend time walking in the forest with the dogs and helping myself to all the treasure that can be found there. Last year was amazing for all kinds of mushrooms and I still have quite a stock of dried porcini and chanterelles. Well, correction – the stock is quickly reducing since I have been making quite a bit of mushroom risotto lately and also have used a part of it for the creamy pumpkin soup.
Now coming back to my egg plant dish idea. It is not something new – I have read about it on some website a while ago and since I didn’t quite recall the original of it, the idea came back to me while doing my weekly grocery shopping – I saw those medium sized, perfectly shaped and definitely very fresh (looking) eggplants on the shelf and the lunch idea for the weekend was set. Excuse me for not being very precise with the measurements, but I am not really into scales – more into tasting.
* 2 medium eggplants
* 1 red onion
* 1 fennel bulb
* a few handfuls of dried porcini (or other mushrooms)
* ~150 grams arborio rice
* grated parmigiano
* ~75 ml cream
* Olive oil
* Fresh ground pepper, salt and oregano
Cut the eggplant in half length wise.
Scoop out the insides of it being careful not to tear the skin. Suggestion – try to scoop out as much as possible for the skin to be thinner.
I greased the inside with a bit of olive oil with the help of rubber kitchen brush and sprinkled a bit with salt and fresh ground pepper. Now let it sit there while we prepare the stuffing – porcini risotto.
Heat up some olive oil in a pan. Lower the heat and add a few pieces/ teaspoons of butter. Cut the onion into wedges, chop the fennel bulb into small 1cm cubes. First fry the onion in the pan until softened and golden and add the fennel. Cook until the fennel gets soft – around 10 minutes. Add some salt and pepper.
In the meantime, while the veggies are cooking: put the dried porcini in a bowl and pour over with a few cups of boiled water; chop the inside of the eggplant into 1cm cubes.
When the onion and fennel is done, add the eggplant.
Stir it quite often. Since the Eggplant does absorb a lot of oil, I would suggest adding a little bit more, if desired – a bit of butter too. But please don’t overdo – eggplant can absorb a lot and although dry and lean risotto is no good risotto, too much might not do good to your dish.
Another 5-7 minutes and put the arborio rice in the pan. From now on it will require occasional stirring since you cannot let the rice sit and cook there. Constant attention to the dish makes the outcome creamy and yummy :).
Cook the rice with the veggies for a few minutes and then add a cup of the liquid from the mushrooms. Keep on stirring occasionally. When the rice absorbs the liquid, add a few more cups. So all in all it is difficult to say how much of it was used – I had poured about half a liter of boiling water over the mushrooms and towards the end, I had to add more hot water to the dish.
When you see that the rice is getting softer and the substance becomes creamier, add the chopped mushrooms. If the rice is still a bit hard, add more water/stock half a cup at a time, not to overdo with it.
While making risotto, I keep on tasting it. When it reaches the moment when it tastes about right, add the cream, 4-5 tablespoons grated parmesan and oregano, taste for salt and pepper. Give it another 5-7 minutes and the stuffing is ready. The rice may lack a few minutes to perfection, but since it is going to be cooked more in the oven, it will pick up the extra cooking time.
Fill up the prepared eggplant halves and sprinkle with parmesan on top and get it in the oven.
It will cook for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the softness of the rice on the way to the oven). If you wish to enjoy a glass of wine that would compliment the dish, chill some Pinot Grigio.