If I had to pinpoint the one dish that made me love cooking, it'd be risotto. It's not one of those quick, easy recipes that you can throw together in 15 minutes or less. It takes time and almost-constant attention, which you can only give something you love.
You start with arborio rice, a short grain rice, which is chewier and starchier than long grain rice. The rice is sauteed first before any liquids are added, until the edges start to get translucent and the center is still opaque. Then some white wine is added to deglaze the pan and add some depth of flavor. Once the wine has been fully absorbed, hot stock is added a ladleful at a time. In between each addition of stock, you need to stir the risotto and make sure that all the liquid has been absorbed before adding the next ladleful. This is what gives the risotto the velvety, creamy texture. That, and love.
I love mushroom risotto because it's a great way to showcase the sometimes subtle flavor of mushrooms. I finally got a shipment of crimini mushrooms in my Boston Organics delivery last week so I was excited to make this dish with them. It's even better if you have wild mushrooms, though, like morels if you can get your hands on them.
Crimini Mushroom Risotto
makes 4 servings
1/2 lb. crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 2/3 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
1 quart mushroom, vegetable, or chicken stock, hot
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
1/3-1/2 cup Parmesan reggiano cheese, grated
Truffle salt (optional)
Heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan on medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until softened. Season to taste with salt, transfer to a bowl (along with the juices), and set aside.
In the same pan, melt 2 more tablespoons of butter and add the chopped onions. Once the onions start to sweat, add the garlic and cook for another minute or two until softened.
Add the arborio rice and stir so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. After about 5 minutes, once the rice has started to turn translucent on the edges but is still opaque in the center, add the white wine and stir to deglaze the pan.
Once the wine has been absorbed, add a ladleful of hot stock and keep stirring. Continue to add the stock a ladleful at a time once the rice has absorbed all the liquid.
When all the stock has been used up, add the mushrooms along with their juices back into the rice and stir. Cover the rice for 2 minutes to finish cooking.
Remove from heat and stir in the chopped parsley, remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and cheese. Finish with truffle salt, if using. Serve immediately.
Even though the dish gets all creamy, the rice should still have some bite to it and not be all mushy. If you do happen to have leftovers, make sure you refrigerate them so that you can make arancini (risotto balls) out of them (recipe coming up next)!
Next: Mozzarella Stuffed Arancini (Risotto Balls)
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