I do feel lucky. Marx Foods selected me and my blog to test their Riso Vignola Biologico Integrale. Give me risotto and I’m all over discovering new ways to incorporate it into meals. I don’t eat an exclusively vegetarian diet, but I love, love, love rice. I love it as a main dish, I love it as a side dish, and I love risotto especially. ‘Biologico:” Italian for organic. “Integrale” means that it is essentially brown rice risotto. The whole grain, in other words. Sign me up.
I also love bison. My good friends Dot and Rick Gallager own the heavenly Shane Creek Bison Ranch out south of Columbus here in Montana. Bison meat, regardless of the cut, has a natural sweetness due to its high iron content. I pick up bison shanks for uses just such as this. I roast them along with onions, garlic, celery, and carrots, then transfer them to a kettle of water and cook it all down to a rich, concentrated stock. Shanks, regardless of their origin, are not good meat sources. They are gristly, full of tendons, and generally gnarly. But they are fantastic to use in stock for all of those qualities. Their connective tissues turn all silky when simmered into a stock, and marry famously with the wonderful meaty quality of the integrale. If you don’t have access to bison, by all means use beef shanks.
I wasn’t sure if the integrale would take on the luscious creaminess of white arborio rice, and I was very happy to see that it does indeed! I’ve incorporated much more brown rice into my diet in general, and to now be able to make risotto with it is a great pleasure.
I apologize for not having photos to post, but for some reason, photos are not transferring from my camera to the computer. As soon as I can figure out why, I’ll get them posted for you.
.5 ounce dried morel mushroooms
8 ounces boiling water
2 ounces butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, small dice (I used a Vidalia)
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 cup Vignola Riso Vignola Biologico, Integrale
Soaking water retained from mushrooms
6 ounces good earthy beer (I used a locally-brewed honey-wheat beer)
32 ounces bison or beef stock, simmering
Rehydrated mushrooms, roughly chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Fresh chives, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Sea or kosher salt and grinds of pepper to taste
- Melt butter together with the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened. Add garlic and sauté until highly fragrant. Add the rice and stir until all grains are coated with butter.
- Add the beer. It will foam up, then subside. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir the pot continuously and slowly with a flat-ended spatula that will maintain constant contact with the bottom of the pot. When most all of the beer has been absorbed by the rice, begin adding ladles of simmering stock one at a time. I used a 4-ounce ladle, which is equal to 1/2 cup. Slowly stir the pot as each ladle of stock is added, and only add the next when most of the previous one has been absorbed by the rice. After all the stock has been added, drain the water from the mushrooms and stir it into the rice.
- By the time all stock has been added, the rice should be reaching a divinely creamy consistency, and it should still have a bit of firmness at the center. Remove the pot from the heat. Add the mushrooms, lemon zest, chives, and Parmesan and stir to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately, with additional Parmesan if you like.
- If you have leftovers, you’ll want to have some additional stock on hand to add. Risotto reheats best on the stovetop. Alternatively, add an egg and some Panko, shape into patties and fry them as risotto cakes. Top with a gently poached egg for a wonderful breakfast.