Recipe: Wild Mushroom Risotto Made with Halal Alternatives
Recently, Halal Foodie asked on our Facebook page “What is the one thing you haven’t tried but wish was available (as halal)”. This got me thinking about risotto. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a revert to Islam and only recently have I started reading food labels very carefully. I’ve discovered many products have sneaky little ingredients like rennet or enzymes that contain animal products. I had no idea that my beloved gourmet cheeses I used to enjoy on a daily basis contained ingredients not suitable to be consumed by Muslims. I really miss my asiago, gruyere and parmesan cheeses not to mention the many unique gourmet cheeses from boutique cheese makers in Quebec. Although, not all contain animal products most of the cheese makers use traditional methods which unfortunately means the use of animal enzymes.
Now, I can do without the occasional stinky cheese but I definitely can not do with out my favourite dish in the world… RISOTTO. This is my comfort food. It warms my soul and makes my taste buds happy. Now that fall is here, I am craving that warm fuzzy feeling I get after a plate of risotto. During my pre-halal days if risotto was on a menu, I need not look any further, I would always order it. Now, It’s impossible to order at a restaurant because not only does it typically contain fresh grated parmesan, which can be questionable, but also chicken stock. I often complain about the lack of good chicken stock in the halal world but I have recently discovered that making it myself is just as easy as going to the store to buy it. Another key ingredient in risotto is white wine. I’ve found that a high quality white grape juice or even a splash of apple juice is a great substitution.
Risotto is an Italian dish made with arborio rice, a very starchy grain which makes the dish deliciously creamy and rich. It is cooked by slowly adding hot stock (chicken, vegetable or seafood) and being stirred constantly. It’s amazing how much liquid those little arborio grains can absorb. I’ve seen many risotto dishes that use different cheeses and vegetables and meats from mushroom, eggplant and peppers to sausage & bone marrow. They also come in a variety of colours; bright red beets, vivid green peas and even glossy black from the ink of a cuttlefish. I’ve even seen strawberry risotto! My favourite of these being Wild Mushroom Risotto. It is relatively simple to make although it does need to be tended to constantly during the cooking process. Give this recipe a try the next time you need a little gourmet comfort food.
NOTE: Because almost all of the flavour comes from the stock make sure you use good quality chicken stock. Either make your own (recipe can be found here) or buy your favourite halal brand. Try to avoid using bouillon cubes as I find they are over salted and have a very artificial flavour to them. Vegetable stock can also be used but I prefer the flavour of chicken best.
WILD MUSHROOM RISOTTO
Yield: 6 servings
- 6 cups of chicken broth (home-made or store-bought)
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 lb of portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 pint of white mushrooms thinly sliced
- 1 oz. of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked for 30 minutes in 1 cup of warm water, thinly sliced
- 2 shallots, diced
- 1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup of high quality white grape juice (or apple juice)
- salt & pepper to taste
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 1/3 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese (I used Silani brand)
- In saucepan, warm broth over low heat until slowly simmering.
- Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in mushrooms and cook until soft, approx. 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms from the heat and their liquid and set aside. Save the liquid, do not discard.
- In a separate skillet sauté shallots in remaining olive oil for one minute. Add the rice and stir to coat and toast each grain.
- When rice has taken a pale golden colour, add the grape juice and stir constantly until juice is fully absorbed.
- Add a ladle (approx. 1/2 a cup) of broth to the rice and stir until the broth has been absorbed. Continue to add broth one ladle at a time and stir constantly until liquid is absorbed and rice becomes al dente (firm to the bite centre). Approx. 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- For and extra gourmet touch, add a dash of white truffle salt on top. Serve risotto immediately. The creamy texture and earthy flavours will make you feel like you wrapped in a blanket.
So back to the question at hand; “What is the one thing you haven’t tried but wish was available (as halal)?” My answer would have to be… NOTHING! Everything that is worth eating in non-halal land has a suitable and delicious alternative in our world….you just might have to put a little effort into making it yourself. Take it from someone who knows. 🙂
Leave a comment below and answer the question: What’s missing for you?
Maryam (Lindsay Contractor) is a wife and mother of one beautiful baby girl. She is owner of Blossom & Bean halal marshmallow and other halal confectionery.