Risotto is a meal meant to be made with a glass of wine in hand. I’ve done the research. White wine is best, after all it’s hot at the stove top, and the first sip should coincide with the first sizzle of vegetables being sautéed in butter. With ingredients ready, it’s just a matter of adding and stirring, adding and stirring, adding and…you get the point…until dinner is ready. From there, you need only refill your wine glass before heading to the table for one of the most comforting, yet still sophisticated meals you can make.
If you’ve never made risotto before, there are some things you must know. First, it’s not made with your typical long grain rice, but rather a type of rice called Arborio. Arborio rice grains are short and fat and they have far more starch than normal rice which is what makes risotto so wonderfully creamy. Arborio rice, unlike long grain rice, is prepared using a 3:1 ratio of liquid to rice (long grain rice is made using a 2:1 ratio) and unlike long grain rice, the liquid is not added at the beginning, but slowly in ladlefuls.
It’s this slow addition of liquid that often spells failure for the impatient cook. Here’s where a glass of wine becomes key for a well-made risotto can not be rushed and the cook should focus his or her attention only on its needs, a sip of wine now and then the only indulgence. Stirring constantly, hot broth is only added after the previous ladleful has been absorbed completely by the rice grains. A risotto that has been lovingly tended is one very fine meal indeed and one should always remember that patience in the cook is the biggest contributor to risotto’s success.
There is a risotto for every season and once you get the general gist for how it’s made the variations are infinite. This version below is my favorite. While you could certainly add the mushrooms when you sauté the rice, I prefer to lightly sauté them separately in an oven-proof skillet and then roast them for maximum flavor. Stirred in at the end of cooking, they keep a slightly firm texture that is the perfect counterpoint to the creamy risotto.
Mushroom Risotto – Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 2-3 as a main course
Use a mix of different mushroom varieties for this hearty risotto with robust mushroom flavor. I used a mix of cremini and shiitake mushrooms when I made it for this post.
3 cups less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
1 small celery stalk, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine
10 ounces mushrooms (a mix of different varieties), cleaned, stems trimmed (or removed if tough) and quartered
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley plus more for garnish
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth over low heat until hot.
Melt two tablespoons of the butter in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add in the Arborio rice and stir constantly until the grains become opaque. This usually takes between 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the vermouth to the rice and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed. In 1/2-cup ladlefuls, add the chicken broth to the rice, stirring after each addition until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat until the entire 3 cups of chicken broth have been added to the risotto or the risotto reaches your desired tenderness (I like mine with a little bite). Be patient. This can take up to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons of the butter in an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the mushrooms with a sprinkle of salt and pepper to the skillet. Sauté briefly, about 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Sprinkle the mushrooms with the thyme and toss to coat. Move the skillet with the mushrooms to the oven and roast for 8 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and set-aside until ready to use.
Finish the risotto by stirring in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, the parsley, the Parmesan cheese, and the roasted mushrooms. Season the risotto to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and let sit for five minutes before serving. Serve sprinkled with a little chopped parsley.