Monday, August 13, 2007

This week's recipe: Rice with leeks and mushrooms

Cup and spoon measurements in this recipe are for American size cups and spoons.

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2 cups rice (white or brown)
4 1/2 to 5 cups hot vegetable stock, chicken stock with the fat skimmed off, or water
1 tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs unsalted butter
4 leeks with most of the green removed; split lengthwise, rinsed well and sliced crosswise into 5 mm (1/4 inch) slices
2 cups sliced mushrooms
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To make vegan: use veggie stock or wate, leave out the butter and increase the olive oil by 1 tbs.

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Put rice, 4 cups of the stock/water, and the salt in a thick-bottomed saucepan, cover and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. When the stock/water boils, reduce heat to medium low. Cook rice as indicated on packaging. It should be cooked to the al dente stage (firm but fully cooked).
While the rice is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pan or skillet. Add the sliced leeks and sauté them for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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Add the mushrooms and toss to mix with the leeks and sauté for about 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup stock or water and adjust the taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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When the rice is cooked, add it to the pan/skillet with the vegetables and toss well. Add what's left of the stock and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot.
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For variety, the authors recommend using 50/50 rice and wild rice, using chanterelles or morels instead of button mushrooms, and/or adding a little wine (white or red) to the stock near the end of the cooking time.

As I live alone and the recipe serves 8 persons and I hate seeing food go to waste, I made it smaller. I halved the amount of olive oil, butter, leeks and mushrooms, and used 1/4 of the given amount of the other ingredients, as I was going to eat the dish as a main course and felt the ratio of rice to vegatables was too big. (Sometimes I just can't help changing recipes). I used vegetable stock, as I am not fond of chicken stock.
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The outcome was a dish which would have been indistinguishable from a risotto if I had used Arborio rice instead of Basmati. Using Basmati lent the dish a slightly nutty flavour that complemented the leeks. The taste of the leeks was rich but not overwhelming, even with double the amount of leeks to rice from the original recipe. While I can not say I tasted the mushrooms pieces much, the mushrooms did lend an extra dimension to the cooking liquid and texture to the dish. Both rice and mushrooms turned out perfectly al dente, while the leeks ended up so soft that they melted on the tongue. I did use what some might say was a little too much pepper – I like pepper but must remember to be careful when I make the dish again, as it will in all likelihood be for company.

Yes, it was that good. Next time, though, I am going to take Dille and Belsinger's advice and use wild mushrooms and add some wine to the broth. I am undecided whether I will try it with a different kind of rice, as I liked how the nutty flavour of the Basmati combined with the leeks.

While I did change the proportions in the recipe, I think the dish will be just as good using the original proportions, but more suited as a side dish than a main dish.

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