Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Morel Mushroom & Thyme Risotto

Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish cooked in a broth to a nice, creamy consistency. It has a reputation for being difficult and time consuming, which is kinda true. It takes about 20-30 minutes of hands-on cooking to make a lovely risotto. We decided to try the baked version to see how it stood up to the traditional method, both in taste and consistency. This dish has a decidedly Alaskan flair, using locally harvested morel mushrooms, fresh Alaska asparagus and thyme. The final result was sooo good - creamy, flavorful, a beautiful presentation...and half the hands-on time! -Audrey & Patti
3 tablespoons butter
1 ounce dried morels
1/3 white or yellow onion, diced very small
1/4 cup shallot, diced very small
1 cup risotto rice (Carnaroli or Arborio)
2-1/2 cups mushroom broth (from reconstitution)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme, plus a few sprigs for garnish
small bunch asparagus, tips and a bit of stem 
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Serves: 4

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Dried morels are stored well in glass canning jars. See link at end of post to learn how to dry them.

Cover morel mushrooms with about 3 cups warm water to reconstitute for about 30 minutes. Use this time to get everything you need prepped, grated, chopped, measured and ready to go.

Remove morels from water, drain well and slice into small pieces. Reserve all the liquid and set aside.

Melt butter in oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and cook several minutes.

Reduce heat and add the onions and shallots. Add pepper to taste and the thyme. Cook till onions are translucent, a few minutes.

Add rice to the skillet and stir until all grains are coated in the butter.

Pour one cup of broth into the rice mixture. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed completely by the rice. Add asparagus and the other cup of broth. 

Microwave asparagus for 30 seconds to take the edge off
 before adding to risotto.

Stir until mixture just comes to a simmer.

Transfer skillet into the preheated 400 degree oven.

Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes. Rice should be cooked but have a bit of firmness.

Set pan back on the stove and add 1/2 cup broth (if you run out of the reserved morel broth, use chicken broth), and the cream. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.

 This finishes the rice, and you will be amazed at how much creamier the texture is compared to when you remove it from the oven. 
Sprinkle with Parmesan and thyme sprigs.

Serve immediately, or just eat it out of the pan while standing at the stove :) Good stuff.


Audrey, morel hunting in a burned area of forest near Fairbanks. Nutrients from burned and rotting trees are a perfect medium for morels and they grow abundantly in the soil scorched by wildfires.

Gently removing the fabulous fungi from the forest ground.

Margaret, Chanta and Audrey with their haul. Dried morels sell for about $20/ounce, so this was a very lucrative day!

It's really important to dry your morels soon after you pick them or they will start to mold. Here is an easy, fool proof step by step guide to drying them: How to dry morel mushrooms

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