Posts Tagged ‘risotto’

Mushroom Risotto

Every time I tell Bikenut I’m going to make risotto, he always asks the same question, “That’s pasta, right?”  “No, silly.  ‘Risotto’ is Italian for ‘rice’.  You are thinking of orzo, which is a rice-shaped pasta.”  “Are you sure?”  Who is the cook here!?  Of course I’m sure!!!

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Every time I make risotto, I always hope that it will take less time to cook this time than it did the last time.  That never happens.  I’m always standing in front of the stove for about 45 minutes, but the reward for that effort is usually worth it.  This time was not an exception.

I’ve made a few risottos since I became somewhat obsessed with them a couple of years ago.  Surprisingly, with mushrooms being one of my all-time favorite ingredients, I’ve only attempted a mushroom risotto once before.  (That happened to be one time that the effort was not well-rewarded.)  I opted to try it again because I needed to use up the mushrooms I bought at the farmer’s market this past weekend.

First things first, the mushrooms (a combination of both white and brown) had to be cleaned and sliced.  I don’t know about you, but I wash my mushrooms under running water.  I go as far as to use a vegetable brush on them.  And each time I clean mushrooms, I think of my friend and one-time co-worker saying, “I bet you’re just like me and scrub those things!  I don’t trust that ‘Just brush them with a damp paper towel’ business.”  Yeah, me either!  It was another saying that would circulate through our group that reinforced that behavior — “They treat us like mushrooms — keep us in the dark and cover us with ****…”  Not something I want in my risotto, that’s for sure!

I started the risotto off by heating up some chicken broth (a 32oz carton) in a pot, and putting my 10″ stainless steel pan over medium-high heat and adding a swirl of olive oil.   Once that was good and warmed up, I added a little bit of butter and 3/4 of a cup of rice, gave it all a stir to coat the rice in the oil, then tossed in the mushrooms along with some salt and pepper, a half teaspoon each of dried thyme, garlic powder and onion powder.   (You could use fresh thyme, garlic and onion, but I didn’t have any on hand.)  I sauteed the mixture until the rice took on a nice golden color.

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Toasty rice... and mushrooms!

From this point on is where all the time and devotion to risotto is spent.  Once your rice is all toasty, you start adding the hot broth.

TIP: The trick to risotto is to use HOT broth, and to add it in stages until the rice is cooked through.  I typically add about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of broth at a time, then stir, stir, stir until the broth has been absorbed.  Once the risotto starts looking dry again, it’s time to add another 1/2 cup of broth to the rice, and stir, stir, stir.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

You may need to heat additional broth (or if you are like me and run out of broth, you can use hot water) to continue this process until the rice is fully cooked.  I usually start biting into undercooked grains of rice at about the time I have one to two more portions of broth left to determine if I need to start heating more.   In this case, I did need to heat some water, but before adding the last bit of chicken broth, I tossed 2 sliced green onions into the broth to blanch them a bit, then poured it all into the risotto pan when it was ready for more broth.

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Almost time for more broth!

I have started to cheat on my risottos.  I don’t stir constantly, like every recipe I have seen has said I should do.  My arm gets tired!  And to be honest, my best risottos have been the ones where I’ve “forgotten” about it between adding the broth and giving it an initial stir.  Once the rice starts to puff up and is mostly al dente, then the constant stirring is actually more critical because it starts to stick together (and to the pan) a little more.

When I notice that the risotto starts taking on this creamy appearance, I start tooth-testing a bit more.  My advice to you is, once you think that it’s done, hit it with another dose of broth.   It usually won’t suffer for the added liquid, and it’s better to be safe than to have spent 45 minutes stirring rice and broth around only to have undercooked risotto in the end.

Give it a final taste for seasoning adjustments, and you’re done!  To serve it up, just put it in a nice bowl or along side a nice pork chop, top it with some fresh herbs or maybe a little grated parmesan if  you like, and enjoy!

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Mushroom Risotto

mushroom_risotto3-2Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of rice (arborio or other short/medium grain white rice)
  • 1 – 32oz container of chicken broth
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 green onions, white and light green portion, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, or fresh garlic, onion, thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • Fresh herbs or grated parmesan cheese to garnish

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, heat broth.
  2. In a large pan, over medium-high heat, add olive oil and butter.
  3. When butter has melted, add rice to the pan, stir to coat.
  4. Add mushrooms, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, salt and pepper.  Stir.
  5. When rice appears golden in color, add 1/2 cup of heated broth to the pan.  Stir.
  6. When the added liquid appears to be absorbed, add another 1/2 cup of heated broth to the pan.  Stir.
  7. Add green onion to the risotto.
  8. Repeat Step 6 until rice is cooked through and risotto appears creamy.  You may need to heat additional broth or water.
  9. When rice is fully cooked, remove risotto to a serving dish and garnish with fresh herbs or grated parmesan cheese.
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