At work yesterday, I was talking with a co-worker about great places in the downtown Milwaukee area to eat. One of the locations showed a beautiful butternut squash risotto on the landing page of their site. It looked wonderful and reminded me that I had arborio rice and butternut squash at home. On the way home, I thought, “How long will the butternut squash take to cook?” On second thought, I switched to sweet potato, which I also had at home. Stopping at the grocery store for some fresh cremini mushrooms and romano cheese, I got home before 5:30pm and got to work. Here’s my approach:
Mushroom and Sweet Potato Risotto
- Peel and cut a medium to large sweet potato into small cubes. Cut the cubes small enough so that they’ll cook quickly but not too small that they get lost in the dish. Toss in olive oil and a sprinkle lightly with salt. I place the oil-coated cubes onto a rimmed baking sheet and place into a preheating oven. Oven should be heating to 400 or higher. Pull out of the oven when slightly browned and set aside until later.
- Warm 4 cups of water in the microwave until hot. Place dried porcini mushrooms into the water. This is the liquid I used to plump the rice with.
- Begin sweating about half of an onion chopped in olive oil.
- While the onions are sweating, process the cremini mushrooms in a food processor to create a very fine 1/2 to 1 cup of minced mushroom. Add to onion before onions begin to brown. Add thyme, garlic, a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of pepper. (Thyme is plentiful in my house now. I’ve got a huge bunch of it hanging upside down in the house drying for the winter!)
- Once the onion/mushroom mixture is fairly dry (but not burning) add a few more tablespoons of olive oil and a cup of arborio rice. Stir to coat and slightly toast the rice.
- Add a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your favorite wine. (I used my trusty bottle of sherry…not the salty grocery store stuff!)
- Once absorbed, begin adding 1/2 cup of the infused mushroom water. (Remove porcini first. Chop and add to rice mixture) As the rice absorbs the water, add another 1/2 cup. I wound up with about 1/3 cup of water left with this batch. To determine if your rice is done, periodically taste a grain of rice after about 15 minutes of cooking. Before proceeding to next step, I work to have most of the last water addition absorbed…but not completely dry.
- Add a tablespoon of butter and stir in to create a smooth and slightly glossy sauce. Add 1/4 of cheese, cooked sweet potato cubes and stir until mixed.