For years, I avoided making risotto because of all the things I’d heard about risotto–it was hard, advanced, super finicky, etc. Then one day, I had had enough of listening to the naysayers of the world and tackled Mushroom Risotto–and I am so glad I did!
Risotto is a dish you really can’t walk away from once you get the rice in the pan. So this isn’t a dish I do on a week night when I have twenty other things I’m trying to do while cooking dinner. This is a weekend treat. It needs near-constant stirring to make it turn out correctly, but the result is well worth all that effort!
Another key is having the correct rice for the job. Arborio is the rice I choose to use because I can find it in the stores here, and I can also usually find it in discount and closeout stores such as Christmas Tree Shops or Ocean State Job lot for a lot less than my local grocery chain tends charge. When I do find it at a good price, I stock up. (The store clerks always give me strange looks when I have 4 or 5 packages of this stuff, but that is all I need for a year.)
A benefit of having it on hand is risottos come in many forms, so you can usually make a risotto with something you have in your pantry or frig. I have seen plain risotto, Parmesan, broccoli, etc… the options are endless! The only other must have beside rice is chicken or vegetable stock–and maybe Parmesan cheese.
Technique is the second key component of risotto. I use a large cast iron skillet and a flat-bottom, wood spatula for stirring. Once the veggies have been prepared, and rice has been toasted, it’s time to start the most intensive portion of the dish (and it’s not that intense, really!). The key is to add the hot stock 1 cup at a time and keep moving the rice until it has absorbed the stock. The way to know when your risotto is ready to add the next cup is when you push your wood spatula in a wide line through your rice and you don’t see liquid immediately rush into the space you just created. Once you are at that point, add your next cup and repeat until your rice is cooked al dente (or to your liking). This part of the process usually takes about 15-20 mins of stirring. Gather some friends or family and chat, laugh and enjoy each other while you stir!
5oz Sliced Shitake Mushrooms, diced small
2 Shallots, diced small
5-6 C Chicken Stock
1 1/2 C Arborio Rice
1/2 C. Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese (or more to your liking!)
- Add chicken stock to a pot and bring to a simmer. Let it continue to warm on the stove as you cook the rest of the dish.
- Heat large pan on medium-high heat then add mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper. (No oil needed at this point.) Cook mushrooms until all the moisture has cooked off and they are brown (usually 2-3 minutes).
- Add 1T Olive Oil to pan and add shallots. Cook until shallots are translucent (aprox 2 minutes).
- If pan is dry, add another 1T of olive oil and 1 1/2 C Arborio rice. Stir until rice is coated and cook for 1 minute.
- To the rice, add 1 C. Chicken stock and stir to deglaze the pan (A ladle full is about a cup).
- When you are able to move the rice and the stock no longer immediately fills the area that you just cleared with your spatula, add another 1C of stock and repeat until you have used 5-6 cups of stock or until the rice is cooked to your liking.
- Turn off heat, add Parmesan cheese, stir to combine until melted.