This dish was indeed inspired my trip to Italy, and is perfect for a meatless Monday dish. Making risotto has been on my short list for years, and there's no time like winter for such a heavy, warming dish. (Yes, it's still winter!) I spiked it with a variety of my favorite mushrooms that I purchased in bulk---cremini, oyster, chanterelle, and even some baby portabellas. You can easily toss other things in this---from asparagus to grilled chicken.
Risotto is amazingly simple to make. The Italian short-grain Arborio rice does all the work for you. There are only two things a good risotto requires: a whole lot of stirring and a little bit of patience. Plus, the flavor is all in the stock you use. Here's the perfect occasion to defrost that homemade turkey stock you have leftover from your last roasted bird or vegetable stock making adventure. I, however, am guilty of using store-bought stock, and it still came out delicious.
Step 1: Cook whatever you are spiking your risotto with. I did mushrooms, so I sauted them in olive oil and butter.
Step 2: Add your onion, garlic, and celery. Saute them. Then, add your Arborio rice and stir for about a minute, toasting it (toasting grains brings out a deliciously nutty aroma).
Step 3: Add your stock, slowly, one cup at a time. Stir constantly! When the risotto appears to have soaked up the liquid, it's time to add another cup. This is where the magic happens: the stirring releases the natural starches in the Arborio rice, making your risotto creamy and velvety.
Step 4: Add your toppings and voila!
Mushroom Risotto Recipe
9 cups broth (homemade preferable, or reduced-sodium if store bought) 1 pound mushrooms (I prefer Cremini) 6 fresh thyme sprigs 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided* 1 large onion, diced 2 celery ribs, chopped 1 1/2 cups uncooked short-grain rice (Arborio) 1 cup dry white wine 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (1 teaspoon if using dried thyme) Salt and pepper, to taste
*You may use salted butter if that's what you have on hand. Unlike baking, it's okay to use salted butter in cooking. Just be careful when salting your food to taste.
- Bring broth to a simmer in large pot over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to just below a simmer.
- Remove mushroom stems. Add mushroom stems, thyme sprigs, and half of parsley to broth. Remove leaves from other half of parsley bunch and chop, reserving 1/2 cup of chopped parsley leaves.
- Heat olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a dutch oven (large pot OK) until hot. Add mushroom caps and saute 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove mushrooms from dutch oven and set aside.
- Add onion and saute 10 minutes, until tender. Add celery and saute another 5 minutes, until softened.
- Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, about one minute, until fragrant. Stir in wine and cook, stirring often for 3 minutes.
- Add one cup hot broth mixture (discard mushroom stems, and herbs by straining). Cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed. Repeat with remaining broth (rice will absorb the broth more quickly at the beginning, and more slowly at the end). Total cooking time for stirring broth is about 30-35 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Stir in cheese, chopped thyme, chopped 1/2 cup parsley, and remaining two tablespoons butter. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Don't be afraid to season your food. Add salt until you can taste the different flavors. The food should not taste "salty" but should be flavorful.