This is a nice risotto with small pork meatballs and a variety of mushrooms. It is adapted from Alon Shaya’s new cookbook Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel. Depending on how fatty the ground pork is, the risotto may not need to be enriched with butter at the end. I thought the ground pork I bought at Wegmann’s was rather fatty and therefore did not add any butter at the end, and in fact drained off some of the fat/oil from the cooked mushroom and onion mixture before adding it to the rice.
3 Tbs. red wine
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 Tbs. Morton kosher salt
1 tsp. honey
¼ tsp. ground juniper berries
1 lb. ground pork
2 quarts low sodium chicken or pork stock
¼ tsp. extra virgin olive oil
¼ lb. fresh shitake mushrooms, chopped
¼ lb. fresh oyster mushrooms, chopped
½ oz. dried porcini mushrooms, soaked and chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
4 Tbs. unsalted butter (optional)
1 cup, tightly packed chopped parsley
To make the meatballs, start by steeping the garlic in the wine for 30 minutes. Strip the leaves from the thyme sprig, chop them, and add them to a large bowl. Add the salt, honey, juniper berries, and ground pork to the bowl. Strain out the garlic from the wine and add the wine to the bowl. Mix together the pork and seasonings.
Heat the chicken or pork stock in a saucepan. When hot, reduce the heat to low to keep the stock throughout the cooking of the risotto.
Put the olive oil in a Dutch oven, and heat over medium-high heat until the oil is hot. Form the meatball mixture into tablespoon-sized meatballs and drop them into the hot oil. Allow them to cook on one side until browned, which will take a couple of minutes, and then stir them to brown the other sides. When nicely browned on the outside, use a slotted spoon to put the meatballs in a bowl leaving the fat in the pan. Do not worry if the meatballs are not cooked through since they will be further cooked in the risotto.
Decrease the heat to medium and add the mushrooms. Stir to dissolve the browned bits left by the meatballs. Cook about 5 minutes until the mushrooms have browned. Add the onions and continue to cook until the onions are translucent and starting to brown, another 5 minutes or so. Remove the mushrooms and onions to a bowl and wipe out the pan. (If the mushroom and onion mixture looks too oily, use a colander to separate out the excess oil.)
Reduce the heat to low and add the rice. Dry toast the rice for 5 to 8 minutes stirring frequently until the rice is fragrant but not browned.
Add the first ladle full of hot broth to the rice and stir well. Add in the meatballs and the mushroom and onion mixture, and stir well. Once the first ladle of broth is absorbed by the rice, add another ladle of hot broth and stir again. Continue to add ladles of broth as each previous ladle is absorbed, and continue to stir. The agitation of the rice during the stirring is what dissolves starch into the broth and creates the creamy texture characteristic of risotto. Continue adding broth and stirring until the rice grains are cooked through. Stir in the parmesan, the optional butter (if using), and the parsley. (This batch seemed rich enough without any additional butter, so I did not add any.) Serve immediately with more parmesan to add at the table.