Monday, March 1, 2010

One Pot Mushroom Risotto - On The Trail

I went camping this weekend. Yes, I know we had a snow storm a couple days prior. I know it's the middle of the winter. I know it's cold. That was the idea.

We snowshoed, we built quinzhees, we ate, and we went to sleep - at 7:30pm. The quinzhees took the majority of the afternoon to build. Mostly because we were having fun playing in the snow and honestly, what else were we going to do? After a long afternoon of digging in the snow we were looking forward to a hot dinner - mushroom risotto modified to be cooked on a camping stove. With a little planning it was actually very easy to make on the trail.
I changed my usual recipe just a little bit by switching out fresh mushrooms for dried and chicken broth for bouillon. Everything else pretty much stayed the same. One day soon I'll make a post about risotto as I would normally make it but in the meantime this can be done in your kitchen as well.

Please excuse the poor picture quality. It was snowing pretty hard, getting dark quickly, my hands were about to fall off and I had two very hungry boys looking over my shoulder expectantly ;) 
Trail Risotto with Mushrooms and Leeks
I generally avoid bouillon because it's packed with chemicals and just doesn't taste very good, but 5 cups of chicken broth isn't exactly "packing light". For this purpose, I made an exception and bought Rapunzel vegan vegetable bouillon cubes. None of us are vegan or vegetarian but it was the only one I could find that wasn't full of chemicals. Risotto is only as good as the broth you make it with and these little cubes definitely did the trick. They dissolved easily in boiling water and didn't taste unnatural in the least. 
Serves 3-4 cold hungry campers.

1oz. dried porcini or shitake mushrooms (1oz. dried equals 4oz. fresh)
~5 cups boiling water
2 bouillon cubes (makes 4 cups of broth but I made 5 out of it)

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small leek, chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
~1/2 cup of vermouth or dry white wine
1/2-3/4 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese (or parmesan), grated
salt and pepper to taste

Camping stove and fuel
Medium pot with lid
wooden spoon
2 small mugs or bowls (whatever you are going to eat out of. I measured the capacity before I left; one was 2 cups and the other 3 cups.). These will be used to hold the water to rehydrate the mushrooms and dissolve the bouillon.

Measure and chop all the ingredients before you leave and pack only the amount that you need. This will keep the weight of your backpack to a minimum.

When it's time to cook, fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Divide mushrooms among the two mugs or bowls and add one bouillon cube to each. Add boiling water and let sit. (I filled both mugs for a total of 5 cups of broth).

In the meantime, use the rest of the hot water for tea or pour it out. Add butter and olive and place back on the burner. Add chopped onion and leek. Cook a until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add rice and continue cooking a few minutes more, stirring occasionally.
When the rice is well coated and glossy add the vermouth. Let cook with lid slightly askew until most of the liquid is absorbed but do not let it dry out. 
Add the broth and mushrooms in 3 additions making sure to let the liquid absorb before adding the more. Ideally this should take about 25 minutes but we were hungry. After the last addition of broth I let it reduce by about half and then added an exorbitant amount of Romano cheese - probably about 1 1/2 cups instead of the usual 1/2 cup or so. It did the trick. The cheese helped absorb the liquid and make it creamy quickly (the rice was cooked it just didn't have the proper amount of time to release all of its startches). Of course, this isn't ideal and is definitely not how I would do it at home but it was hot and cheesy and still tasted delicious. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Our Quinzhee may not have been the ICEHOTEL, and it did melt on us throughout the night, but in our defense, the air was only around 30 degrees. The air temperature combined with our body heat caused the ceiling to drip on our faces all night. I'm sure you can imagine this made for some fussy campers come morning, but nothing a big bowl of hot oatmeal couldn't cheer up.


  1. HUGE props! we hope to make risotto at our wedding, as in we make it for the guests -- i think we're on par for craziest times to make risotto. i only hopes ours works as well as yours did.



  2. ha! that sounds awesome! when is the wedding? let me know how it turns out!


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