Ok. Hear me out. I know you read the title of this post and probably thought I’ve officially lost it. But I promise you this is amazing. I first heard about this bizarre combo in a book called The Flavor Thesaurus: A Compendium of Pairings, Recipes and Ideas for the Creative Cook. This book is fantastic. It lists pairings, common and strange, to help make your cooking a bit more adventurous. I page through it all the time, and have learned some yummy pairings. But the one that has stuck out to me the most is the mushroom and blueberry combination.
Apparently northern Italy cooking commonly pairs fruit with mushrooms according to the book. Who knew? My fellow Philadelphian (and internationally known chef) Marc Vetri also has a porcini and blueberry lasagna in one of his cookbooks: II Viaggio Di Vetri: A Culinary Journey.
So when I found myself the proud recipient of a bunch of mushrooms from To-Jo Mushrooms, I knew it was finally time to try it out. It has been a really crummy, rainy day so I was craving comfort food. Risotto is a perfect rainy day food: hearty, creamy, and absolutely delicious! I’m a huge fan of mushroom risotto so I was excited to try this spin on it. In the past, I’ve made a traditional Mushroom Risotto, as well as a Wild Mushroom Farro Risotto.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup shallots, sliced
- 3 slider mushrooms, sliced (or 2 large portobello mushrooms)
- 1/4 cup assorted dry mushrooms, optional (I used a mixture of morel, chanterelle, and trumpet mushrooms)
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4 cups beef stock
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- salt and pepper, to taste
My initial goal was to make caramelized shallots to add to the risotto. But. They are a bit more cooked than caramelized so um. Oops. They were still delicious so I’m including them in here.
To rehydrate the dried mushrooms, add the mushrooms to a small bowl and fill with 8 oz hot water. Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes.
Slice your fresh mushrooms, mince the garlic, and thinly slice your shallots.
Heat a small saute pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the shallots and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook for 4 minutes, or until they soften. Lower the heat to low and cook until they brown slightly. Remove from heat and reserve.
Add the beef stock to a small pot over low heat and keep warm.
Using the same pan you used to cook the shallots, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Add one of the sliced mushrooms and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and repeat with the remaining fresh mushrooms. (If you were smarter than me, you can also use a large saute pan and get this done all at ounce. I have no idea why I used such a small pan).
Reserve the mushrooms. Remove the rehydrated mushrooms from the water, reserving the water. (You might need this if the rice is still al dente after using all the stock) Add the mushrooms to the saute pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add to the rest of the mushrooms.
Add a medium sized pot over medium heat. Add the 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pot. Add the garlic and 1/4 tsp dried sage and mix to combine. Cook for 1 minute.
Add 1 cup arborio rice and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute or until the rice becomes translucent.
Add the white wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Season with salt and pepper (be frugal with the salt, you’ll get some salt from the Parmesan and from the mushrooms.) Add 1/2 cup of the warmed beef stock at a time to the rice, stirring frequently. Continue to add the beef stock after the previous 1/2 cup has been mostly absorbed.
When all the beef stock has been used, taste the rice to make sure it is cooked. If it is still kind of al dente, use the water from the dried mushrooms. When all of the water is absorbed, stir in the Parmesan cheese. Stir in the mushrooms and shallots.
Carefully stir in the blueberries and thyme, and serve.
The sweetness of the blueberries brings out the meatiness of the mushrooms. They burst a little when you bite in which is really enjoyable and gives some texture to a normally creamy dish.
I’m so happy I finally tried this combination. It’s always fun to play with new flavors, and it’s even more fun when they actually work well together!