Risotto is labor intensive and takes time to make, and I wouldn’t recommend trying to make it at the same time as another complex dish, but it is a really good side dish and can even stand on its own as a main.
The key to risotto is arborio rice, which has short, rounded grains and a high starch content. You’ll sometimes see it labeled as risotto rice in stores, as it is closely identified with the dish. Arborio also makes great rice pudding. It absorbs a lot of liquid for its size and stays firm as it’s cooked.
A finished risotto is creamy and the grains are soft but whole. Mushrooms are a perfect addition in terms of flavor and texture.
You will need:
- 10 oz mushrooms
- 6 cups stock
- 1/2 cup onions
- 2 cups dry arborio rice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Salt to taste
I used shiitake mushrooms, sliced, and a stock I made a while ago from leftover pork ribs. Any stock or broth will do, but I like to use a nice gelatinous stock because it results in a thicker, stickier risotto. If you want a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock – it will thicken up a little less, but still be creamy and delicious.
Simmer the mushrooms in the stock on med-low heat while you prep your other ingredients.
Pour your olive oil in a deep saute pan and cook the onions until they are translucent. Add in the dry rice and cook it on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
Turn the heat down to low and pour in about a cup of the stock. You don’t want to add the mushrooms yet, so what I usually do is dip a measuring cup into the stock and press it against the side to allow the liquid to stream in without any of the mushrooms falling in.
Stir the rice and broth gently until the rice has absorbed all the visible liquid. Now you can add another 1/2 – 1 cup of broth. Repeat this step until you’ve added all the broth and the rice has absorbed it all. This takes a lot of time – easily 40 minutes. The rice will cook and absorb faster on higher heat, but you risk breaking the grains and the resulting risotto has a weird gritty mouth feel.
Once all the liquid is all absorbed, stir in the mushrooms and warm them back up. Your risotto is ready to serve!
This served three as a main course, with plenty left over – which was part of the plan. Leftover risotto is the perfect material for making arancini (Italian for “little oranges”), which are fried rice balls with a hot molten core of mozzarella cheese. Last night’s rice is far better than fresh for this. Tomorrow night I’ll post the arancini.