I always order risotto at restaurants because I'm convinced I won't make it at home. The prospect of stirring in a small quantity of liquid, waiting until it is absorbed and then adding more makes an impatient multitasker like me cringe. It's the same reason I can't do yoga. The instructor tells everyone to stop thinking about the world and concentrate on their breathing and I'm thinking about case strategy, making a grocery list and reminding myself to call my mom (all in my head, of course). It's psychotic, I know. The only problem with restaurant risotto is that it's always more al dente than I prefer. I know al dente is all cool and Italian-like but I like my food thoroughly cooked. It's the same reason I can't eat raw sushi or a rare steak. But I digress. This weekend, the hubster took me out to a swanky Italian restaurant. I ordered the risotto. It was too al dente. I complained. Up until this point, things were fairly predictable. That is, until I exclaimed, "I'm going to make my own risotto!" The hubster nodded supportively (knowing full well I never would) and I nodded right back (knowing I'd make it simply to prove him wrong).
I spent some time thinking about all of the restaurant risottos I've had. They've ranged from lemon to tomato to asparagus. All quite pleasing but this particular restaurant risotto was plain. In the restaurant's defense, the risotto was intended to play second fiddle to the gorgeous scallops laying on top but I love my starch and think it needs a personality of its own. I also love mushrooms. All kinds of mushrooms. A plan for mushroom risotto was hatched.
I used diced creminis and portabellas because that's all I had. In the future, I'll likely add some shitake and white button mushrooms to the mix.
I also happened to have some homemade chicken stock (a delicious byproduct of the Thomas Keller chicken) on hand. If I didn't, I'd have no qualms using a good quality canned or carton'ed, store bought chicken stock. I also used a standard arborio rice. I say standard arborio because it's what my local "specialty" grocery store sells in the bins so I can buy as much as I need without having to buy a ten pound bag. That reminds me, I have a ten pound bag of Calrose rice sitting in my pantry in case anyone wants to go halfsies (or quartersies) on it. Google informs me that carnaroli rice may be less gummy but it's not sold in the bins and I'll risk gummy if it avoids buying another ten pound bag of rice. I also used a nonstick pot which is a little more forgiving for stirring novices such as myself. Oh, and in an effort to keep myself entertained during the add-stir-add proccess, I sang Lady Gaga songs. Loudly.
I served the finished product with herbed chicken breast and lemon pepper broccoli. The risotto? It was fabulous. Better than the risotto? Seeing the shocked look on the hubster's face. Oh, and I was worried the leftovers would be too gummy but they weren't. Leftover risotto for lunch today was so good, I cried a little bit. My colleagues cried as well but only because they didn't have any and I haven't quite mastered the art of sharing.
8 cups chicken broth, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons butter
2 pounds mixed mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 shallots, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives (or scallions or parsley)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat. Note I used more broth than the original recipe because a) I don't cook with wine and b) I like my risotto cooked thoroughly. At the risk of stating the obvious, you'll use less liquid if you want your risotto al dente.
2. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.
3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and stir in the shallots and garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked to your preference.
4. Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter, chives (or greenery of your choice), and parmesan (if cheese is your thing). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Adapted from AllRecipes