Do You Know The Mushroom Man?

July 28th, 2011 | Rachel

I have a lot of free time on my hands these days, and now that New York City isn’t sizzling from the recent heatwave, I’ve stepped back into the kitchen.  The other day I recreated a fantastic cold corn chowder with dill that I had at Butter last week… but its not very French, so it doesn’t belong on this blog.

During the trip to the Columbia University Greenmarket this past Sunday to pick up corn and dill for the soup, I found myself chatting with the Mushroom Man.  There are a number of items that are considerably cheaper to purchase at farmers’ markets rather than the grocery store, and mushrooms are one of them.  You also oftentimes get the added bonus of speaking to someone who is directly involved in the creation of your produce.

Feeling adventurous, I told the Mushroom Man that I usually purchase crimini mushrooms (also known as button mushrooms), but I was in the mood for something new.  He asked what I was planning on making with the mushrooms, and I said either a sauce or a soup (actually I had no idea what I was going to make but those were the first things to pop into my head when he asked).  Then the Mushroom Man, with a twinkle in his eye, handed me one of the long, narrow mushrooms pictured above and told me to give it a sniff.  This was a piopinni mushroom, he said, and had a strong flavor perfect for soups and sauces.  It smelled wonderful.  He then lovingly selected a small pile of piopinni mushrooms for me, put them in a paper back, and told me to report back.  The grand total was $3.50.

I thought about these mushrooms for several days, trying to choose a worthy dish to make.  I entered the grocery store this evening with a plan to poach a fish in white wine and serve it with a mushroom sauce.  Then I passed the rice aisle and had a flash of genius.  Of course!  Risotto!

Risotto is one of my favorite non-Southern comfort foods, and yet I had never made it before.  I whipped out the All-Recipes app on my iPhone and was soon schlepping two bags of groceries, in addition to the two bags of organic potting mix and window-hanging-herb-garden supplies from Home Depot, up the hill to my apartment.

Julia Child actually has a recipe for mushroom risotto, but she bakes hers and I wanted to stick to the traditional stove top method for my first attempt.  Sorry, Julia.  You can find the recipe I used here.

Apparently you are supposed to use Arborio rice for maximum risotto plumpness, but I only had the options of long grain, super long grain, or sushi rice.  I went with the sushi rice, and the result was fantastic.

Chopped Piopinni Mushrooms

Onions, Garlic, Celery, Mushrooms, Milk, Cream

Homemade vegetable stock simmering in the back

Last step: mix in Parmesan cheese

Mushroom Risotto

Making risotto is actually very simple.  It takes a little patience to slowly mix in the liquid to achieve the right consistency, but the dish is otherwise very forgiving.  I’m already excited about the butternut squash risotto I am going to make this fall.

One Response to “Do You Know The Mushroom Man?”

  1. Lisa says:

    I’m impressed! (And I miss the Columbia University Greenmarket).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *