Not All Mushrooms are Created Equal

I spoke too soon and jinxed it.  The rain did not go away.  In fact, we had been enjoying warm, sunny weather for most of April and the beginning of May until I decided I wanted to actually do something outdoors, and Mother Nature really showed me who's boss.  Saturday and Sunday's forecasts are looking promising though. 

So instead of sitting around on my behind, I took matters into my own hands.  I could show Mother Nature who was really boss of my house.  I could cook up a storm and serve it to my husband, inside our warm, dry home, while she had to stay outside alone with her watering cans. 

But the problem was, I hadn't really planned on cooking a feast.  Our fridge was filled with an assortments of bits and pieces of previous meals.  I considered leftovers--there were some from my husband's favorite meal (aka meatloaf).  But with my renewed energy to fight back against the dreary weather, I'd have to make do with what we had.  

Pork chops, fresh rosemary, Parmesan cheese, and cremini mushrooms practically raised their hands to volunteer for dinner.  Eat me today while I'm still fresh!  

I'm not a huge "mushroom" person, but I can appreciate the complexities that the rich flavor of mushroom can add to a dish.  Tim on the other hand--HUGE mushroom person.  Loves them on and in everything.  But I will be the first to admit that not all mushrooms are created equal, and I will take cremini's over white button mushrooms any day of the week.  

Cremini mushrooms have many aliases including crimini, baby bellas, and portabellinis (because they are in fact immature portabella mushrooms), but by any name, they are equally as delicious.
To go along side our rosemary pork chops, I whipped up this Parmesan Orzo with Cremini Mushrooms, and trust me, you won't ever think all mushrooms are the same again! 

Parmesan Orzo with Cremini Mushrooms
serves 4

Note:  This side dish was definitely enhanced by the drippings already in the pan from frying our entrée, rosemary pork chops, but if you are the type who preserves bacon drippings, that would be a good option as well.  Otherwise, additional butter or olive oil will still do the trick, but you will definitely be missing out on a little "something."  I suggest additional seasoning or tossing in some herbs like rosemary if you start without drippings.

1 tbsp fat drippings
1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cups of cremini onions, rinsed, patted dry, and halved
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup uncooked orzo
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper

Cook orzo according to the directions on the box until al dente.  Drain and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and set aside.  In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and drippings.  When the butter is melted and just begins to simmer, add the diced onion.  Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occassionally, and then add the mushrooms.  Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, careful to continue to stir and adjust heat so as not to burn the onions.  Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the wine, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to remove any accumulated bits.  Allow the wine to reduce down to 2 tbsp.  Add the orzo and Parmesan, tossing together.  Salt & pepper to taste. 

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