Clay Pot Mushroom Risotto

CLAY POT MUSHROOM RISOTTO SERVES 6

Clay pots are ideal for slow-cooked dishes across the Asian spectrum, from Japanese donabe to Vietnamese kho, but this recipe was inspired by the Italian method of cooking risotto, where broth is added a ladle at a time so that the rice fully absorbs the liquid. It made me wonder, what if this classic technique was used in an Asian clay pot, which is unglazed on the outside but glazed on the inside so that little moisture is lost during the cooking process? This is the delicious answer to that question, a marriage of Italian techniques and Asian cookery. My motto for this dish is always “the more the merrier” when it comes to the mushrooms (in terms of both quantity and variety), as they add a meaty, earthy goodness to the dish. And don’t skimp on the soy sauce and scallions—they really tie the flavors together.

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons olive oil


2 garlic cloves, minced


3 cups coarsely chopped assorted fresh mushrooms (such as cremini, shiitakes, oysters, portobellos)

1 ½ cups uncooked short-grain brown rice

4 cups chicken broth


6 links Chinese smoked sausage

(lap cheong), cut into ¼-inch- thick slices (see Tip)


Thinly sliced scallions (green and white parts), for garnish

Soy sauce, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a clay pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they have softened and released their juices, about 3 minutes. Add the brown rice and cook, stirring it in the juices from the mushrooms, until the grains have visibly absorbed some of the cooking liquid, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, one cup at a time, so that the rice absorbs the cooking liquid (similar to how you would make risotto), and simmer until the rice is al dente, about 35 minutes.

Arrange the sausage slices uniformly on top of the rice, cover the clay pot, and let it steam for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sausage is heated through. The rice should be slightly crispy and browned on the bottom, and it will be scented with the smoky flavor of the sausage. Stir it well just before serving, making sure to scrape up the rice crust on the bottom of the clay pot. Serve the “risotto” in individual bowls, and let your guests scatter scallions and sprinkle soy sauce on top as they desire.

Tip: The quality of the sausage you buy makes a huge difference here. Good Chinese lap cheong sausages have a meaty smokiness that’s reminiscent of Virginia country ham.