Mushroom Assam Risotto
Serves 4 to 6
Note: India's Assam region is famous for its malty black tea with characteristic notes of sea salt and rich caramel tones. This twist on a traditional recipe applies a "tea stock" in a new way to create a rich, complex dish.
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 tablespoons Indian Assam black tea
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Salt, pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chanterelle mushrooms, cut in long strips
Dash balsamic vinegar
1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the stock to a boil. Place the Assam tea in a large tea or herb ball and drop it into the stock. Reduce heat to low; let steep 5 minutes. Stock will brew into a rich brown mixture with red tones.
2. In another large saucepan over medium heat, warm the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add garlic and leek; saute until translucent, but do not brown. Add rice and stir until partially translucent.
3. Ladle hot tea stock, 1/2 cup at a time, into the rice mixture, stirring until the liquid is almost completely absorbed before adding more. Repeat, stirring, until all the liquid is absorbed and the risotto reaches a firm, but chewy consistency.
4. Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter for the mushrooms in a saute pan. Add the chanterelles and a dash of balsamic vinegar; saute until the liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes.
5. Gently stir the parsley into the risotto. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the risotto with mushrooms on top, garnished with Parmesan cheese.
-- Christopher Coccagna, tea sommelier