Shiitake & Mascarpone Risotto

I used to write a column for Drexel’s newspaper called “Cooking with a K”. My very talented friend, Mike Arrison photographed each of my articles where I would feature a particular ingredient. This dish is from one of those articles, featuring mushrooms.
There are so many wonderful varieties of mushrooms. Beside the obvious and incredibly expensive truffle, my favorite mushroom is Shiitake. They are the perfect addition to any dish, but risotto really allows their flavor to shine through. I also chose to add creamy Mascarpone (Italian cream cheese), sharp Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley. All of these flavors and textures combine to create a delectable dish.

Shiitake & Mascarpone Risotto
Yields: 4 Servings

1/2 pound Shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium shallot
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons Mascarpone
1/2 cup Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
kosher salt
black pepper

Place a small saute pan over medium heat, add one tablespoon of butter and allow it to melt. Add the mushrooms along with a little bit of kosher salt and black pepper, let them cook for six minutes and set them aside while preparing the risotto.
Place four cups of chicken stock in a small saucepan over low heat. Mince the shallots and garlic finely, then set them aside. Add one tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium heat.
When the butter has melted, add the minced shallots and garlic. When the shallots are translucent (before the garlic becomes brown) add in the cup of Arborio rice. Stir the rice until it is translucent and slightly toasted; this should take about two minutes. Add the white wine and stir until absorbed. Continue by adding one cup of chicken stock to the rice, stirring until absorbed. Add a second cup of chicken stock and stir. Continue to stir your risotto and add a third cup once the second is absorbed. The risotto should have a creamy texture at this point. Continue to add a little bit of liquid until it is the perfect consistency (creamy and al dente).
Turn off the heat; add the Mascarpone, the Parmesan, and most of the cooked mushrooms (reserve a few for the presentation). Stir until they’re combined into the risotto. Finally, taste the risotto for correct seasoning- it may need a little bit of additional salt and pepper.

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