Monday, October 11, 2010

Mushroom Risotto

Although Gavin and I entered our marriage equally excited and committed, I have to admit that a lot of our wedding presents were for me. Kitchen Aid stand mixers, Cuisinart food processors, and colored mixing bowls don't really whip him into a frenzy of excitement. I, on the other hand, felt like a little kid on Christmas opening each amazing kitchen appliance and utensil. I know that most people put kitchen, bed and bathroom supplies on their wedding registries but I doubt there are many people who get as excited about the kitchen stuff as I do. I have been waiting for certain kitchen gadgets for months, holding out hope that someone would be kind enough to get it for me for the wedding.

Although it has been a couple of weeks since the wedding, I am slowly incorporating these new items into my kitchen in order to not get overwhelmed and start cooking every recipe I've ever come across in one day. But even more than the joy that every new kitchen item brings me, I am even more excited by how motivated they have all made me to cook. There's something about brand new toys that makes work seem a lot more like play than toil. I'm sure guys (and some girls) feel this way about a new tool kit or new car equipment; but for me, it's all about the kitchen toys. So I'm taking this motivation and running with it. I have been cooking up a storm so I now have a backlog of recipes that I'm really excited to share with everyone.
One dish that I have sort of skirted around but wanted to make is a classic risotto. I have made a couple of "mock" risottos using different types of grains--one with quinoa and one with bulgur. But classic risotto is made with arborio rice and, when made correctly, cannot compare to anything else. It's soft without being mushy, creamy without actually using cream, and brimming with all of the flavors that went into making the dish. The process is somewhat labor-intensive as it really needs to be stirred almost constantly during the cooking process. Fortunately, risotto is hearty enough to serve as a meal in its own right. Toss a fresh salad to go along side and you've got a great meal. Or if you want to use it as a side dish, just go with other things that don't take too much babysitting to make. But don't be intimidated by the process. It just involves a lot of stirring and is definitely worth it. If you're not a huge fan of mushrooms, they can be left out to just make a plain risotto. And even if you haven't received any new kitchen toys recently, hopefully something (this blog perhaps?) will motivate you to get cooking. The results are definitely worth the effort!

Mushroom Risotto (4 side dish servings)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 6-8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced (shiitake, crimini, or portobello)
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 5-6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
In a saucepan, heat the stock over low heat on a back burner.
In a large pan, one with straight sides, heat oil over medium low heat.
Saute shallots for 1 minute; add mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes to soften mushrooms.
Season with thyme, salt and pepper; saute another minute.
Add arborio rice and stir to combine.
Pour in white wine, stirring until the wine has reduced by half.
Incorporate the stock 1 cup (or less) at a time; stirring constantly as the stock is absorbed.
Add the next cup of stock when most of the liquid is absorbed but before the pan is dry.
Continue adding stock until the rice is very soft but not mushy (start checking after about 4 cups of stock by tasting a piece of rice).
When the rice is fully cooked with a little liquid left, remove the pan from the heat.
Stir in the Parmesan cheese and cover the pan. Let the risotto sit for a couple of minutes.
Check the seasoning and serve garnished with a sprinkle of Parmesan.

For a printable recipe click here

Mushroom Risotto

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