Creamy. Rustic. Classic.
Oh, how I love a good risotto. Especially mushroom risotto with the glorious earthiness of the mushrooms showcased so cleanly against a perfect canvas of starchy arborio rice.
I use mushrooms two ways in risotto to take full advantage of both flavor and texture. First, grind most of the mushrooms in a food processor so the fantastic flavor can be deeply infused within the rice. The remaining mushrooms are sliced and sauteed in butter and used as a garnish to provide even more mushroom flavor and a contrast in texture.
Risotto has a reputation for being difficult, I think because people are intimidated by recipes that call for “constant stirring for 45 minutes.” In a word, that instruction is crap.
To clarify, while there is indeed a lot of stirring required, you’re not tied to the stove. Simply stay nearby and stir every minute or so, which still gives you plenty of time to prepare or cook other parts of the meal and even clean up a bit.
Second, it has never taken me more than 25 minutes cooking time to make a risotto from start to finish. I find the trick is to use a wide pot for the risotto and keep the liquid warm in a different pot.
Finally, risotto truly is a basic recipe that relies on a 1 to 3 ratio of arborio rice to liquid. Once you have the process down, you can use it to make any flavor or type of risotto.
Here are the steps to making risotto:
- Sweat the aromatics (onion, garlic, etc.) in fat (oil or butter) until soft.
- Stir in the vegetable if applicable (in this case mushrooms). Cook until soft.
- Stir in the rice and toast for about 1 minute.
- Pour in the wine (usually about 1/6th of the total liquid, or 1/2 cup wine from 3 cups total liquid). Stir occasionally until the wine has been absorbed by the rice.
- Continue adding hot liquid (usually stock or broth) one ladle at a time, stirring occasionally until absorbed before adding the next ladle.
- Test for doneness by squeezing one grain of rice between two fingers. Look for the rice to separate into thirds.
- Stir in Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt, pepper and herbs.
Here’s the recipe for Mushroom Risotto:
Mushroom Risotto – makes 4 side dish servings
1 1/4 cups mushrooms, cleaned and divided
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine, i.e. Pinot Grigio
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
Puree 3/4 cup of the mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped. Thinly slice the remaining 1/2 cup mushrooms and set aside.
Heat the broth in a pot over medium heat. Once it reaches a simmer decrease the heat to low and cover to hold warm.
Heat the olive oil in a deep, wide pan over medium heat. Add the minced onions and cook, stirring until the onions become soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the mushrooms. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, then mix in the arborio rice and cook for 1 minute.
Pour in the wine and stir until the wine has been absorbed by the rice. Add one ladle of broth, about 1/2 cup, and stir every 30 seconds to 1 minute until all the broth has been absorbed. Continue this process until all the broth has been absorbed and a grain of rice pressed between two fingers separates into three pieces (see photo).
Stir in the Parmesan cheese, thyme and 1/2 tablespoon butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a skillet melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until the edges become lightly browned. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
To serve, spoon the risotto in a large serving bowl or onto individual plates. Garnish with the sauteed mushrooms.