Monday, April 16, 2012

Shady Oaks Mushroom Risotto

Nothing makes this blogger happier than good local people seeing good things happen with their amazing local businesses.

Enter Shady Oaks Organics of Newburyport.

You may have seen their name in several restaurants from Newburyport, to Portsmouth, to Boston. Chefs locally are picking up on their fresh, beautiful products and serving them up for you. Here in Newburyport, both Enzo and Ceia both use Shady Oaks mushrooms in their dishes and proudly display them on their menus. By the way, if you haven't tried either of those restaurants, get up, and go, I'm serious.

However, we're talking mushrooms today. This writer will admit she has never had a love affair with fungi. She also has never tried mushrooms as wonderful as these.

From golden oyster, to grey dove, to shitake - Shady Oaks cultivates several varieties from organic straw in their Newburyport greenhouse. These are perfect specimens, as beautiful to behold as they are to eat. The company was started by a pair of locals, Nate Seyler and Devin Stehlin, who realized the market for such a product in New England was lacking, and they could fill the void. They run the business along with Leif Johnson, traveling to farmers' markets throughout the region, and making deliveries to various local restaurants, and stores. You can find them at the Newburyport Farmers' Market, if you're in the area.

The trio just received kudos and first place at the 2012 North of Boston Business Plan Competition at the Enterprise Center at Salem State University. They're looking to expand, and bring more of local-loving folks like myself more amazing mushroom selection.

To be fair, I have to admit that Seyler is friend of myself and the husband, but the dedication that he, and his other partners bring to the local food table is nothing short of extraordinary. They have a commitment to this city and this region that gets them a gold star in my book.

The husband and I picked up several varieties of their mushrooms at the Newburyport Farmers Market last weekend. The husband would just eat them straight, I like them with a little finesse. I've never made a mushroom risotto, so I went researching for a simple, straight forward recipe that would allow the mushrooms to shine. There are many out there, and too many have ingredients such as pancetta or bacon that I felt would compete with these superior fungi. Simply Recipes came to my rescue with the simple, yet wonderfully flavorful version you will find below.

You need to know more about Shady Oaks Organics, by the way. Their story and process is fascinating. Start with this recent article in the Newburyport Daily News, try their website, and don't forget to give them a "like" over on Facebook.

Support local people doing great things, your community is stronger for it.

Shady Oaks Mushroom Risotto
Adapted from: Simply Recipes
Serves: 4-6

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, cut into half-inch pieces (I used golden oyster and grey dove varieties, you want flavorful kinds, not your standard supermarket fare)
  • 2/3 cup vermouth
  • 5-6 cups of chicken stock (low-sodium is best)
  • 1/3 cup of peeled, minced, shallots
  • 1 3/4 cup arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring your stock JUST to a simmer. You don't want it boil.
  2. Take a dutch oven, and melt the 3 tablespoons butter over medium high heat.
  3. Add your mushrooms and shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, 
  4. Now, add in your rice, allow to toast for a minute or two or until the rice becomes translucent.
  5. At this point, dump in your vermouth, bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the liquid by half. This should take about 3-4 minutes. 
  6. Now you're ready to get that risotto nice and creamy - reduce the heat to medium, then add the stock to the rice mixture a half cup at a time. All along the way, you're going to continuously stir the rice, that's what makes it creamy. You want to wait until the stock is nearly completely absorbed before adding your next batch. Continue doing this until the rice is cooked, but slightly al dente. All together this takes about 25-30 minutes.
  7. Once you've achieved the desired consistency, stir in your parmesan cheese, the last tablespoon of butter, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with the chives.
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