I’m always kinda surprised when I see cooking shows with professional cooks that struggle to make risotto. Burned, undercooked, gloopy or whatever, they just make it look waaaayyyy to hard. Because it isn’t hard. Time consuming to some extent and requiring attention, but certainly not hard.
I’ll admit, it wasn’t until 2 years ago that I made my first risotto, and I was worried with the first attempt. How could I be anything but, with so many books and TV shows claiming risotto making was a fine art, requiring the Zen focus of a master chef to get perfect.
What I found out is that I can make risotto, and if I can make risotto then so can you.
The key to perfect risotto isn’t much more than giving it your undivided attention when cooking it. That means 25-30 minutes in which you will be right in front of the stove, tenderly stirring and caring for your risotto. In some ways the experience is somewhat Zen like, in that you get to concentrate fully on just one thing. While I’ve seen cooks get totally flustered by risotto over and over, the truth is I find making it to be pretty relaxing.
One of the really great things about risotto is that it is a blank canvas. The risotto itself has little flavor other than that of the liquid used to cook it (which means you should use a very good stock – if possible one you made yourself), and will serve as a canvas for whatever you wish to add to it, whether that’s seafood, herbs, cheese, or like in today’s case – mushrooms.
If you like mushrooms you will love this mushroom risotto as it allows the earthy flavor of the mushrooms to come front and center, while the risotto adds a nice bite and creaminess to the dish. I find good risotto very comforting, which is a surprise in some respects since I’m not Italian and I never even had risotto until well into my 3rd decade of life. Even so, it is a very comforting dish and I can imagine rice farmers in northern Italy sitting down to enjoy a nice risotto over wine and good company.
- 4 cups chicken broth, divided
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 12 ounces portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 12 ounces white mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- sea salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives (spring onions can be substituted)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
- In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.
- Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and stir in the shallots. Cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add ½ cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth ½ cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter, chives, and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If you have leftovers (we rarely do – but that needs to change), you can use them to make arancini, which are balls of rice wrapped around mozzarella cheese or a thick bolognese and then breaded and deep fried. I haven’t tried this preparation at home yet, but rest assured you will find a recipe for it here sometime in the near future.