Risotto is one of those dishes that seem difficult to make, but it’s really not. I’ve tried many different versions and my favorite risottos are with mushrooms, seafood and mint/prosciutto. The idea of constantly stirring the rice is daunting, but I actually don’t stir it non-stop. It also cooks really fast – about 18-20 minutes. Stirring the risotto often is necessary though, this creates a creamy texture. Definitely stir it once you add any liquid (wine, stock, etc.) and stir a few times before the liquid is completely evaporated. Also, don’t add a large amount of stock at the same time (I usually add 1/2 cup at a time) and wait until it’s absorbed by rice completely before adding new portion of stock. Here is a great article about risotto from NPR: Taking The Risk Out Of Risotto
In terms of ingredients, you may have seen recipes that call for butter, heavy cream, etc. I’ve tried a lot of them and found that the ingredients below work best for me. White wine and fresh herbs are important – they add so much flavor! Stock is also important – risotto will be particularly delicious with mushroom stock, but you can substitute for vegetable stock. I have to admit, I usually buy the packaged stock for risotto and this one is the best (you can get it at Whole Foods).
Ingredients (for 4 servings)
32 oz (1 qt.) mushroom or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 lb. baby bella mushroom, halved
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for garnishing)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons cream fraiche (or mascarpone)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Bunch of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
Bunch of flat-leave parsley, finely chopped
Small bunch of green onion, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1. Heat the mushroom stock in a small pot. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a separate heavy pot over moderately high heat, then saute onion, stirring, until it becomes softened and translucent (about 3 minutes), before it gets any color, add the celery and garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the rice, stir, add wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is absorbed.
3. Add about 1/2 cup of hot stock and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed. Keep adding stock in small portions (1/2 cup), stirring frequently. Taste for salt and season to taste (packaged stock has some salt in it, so you may not need to add too much).
4. Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms. Heat up the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over moderately high heat and add mushrooms. Cook stirring for a few minutes and season with salt and pepper. Cook them, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are browned and any liquid they give off is evaporated (about 8 minutes). Add 1 tablespoon cream fraiche and sherry vinegar, stir and cook for another minute until mushroom absorb the cream, turn off the heat.
5. Continue cooking the rice adding the stock until you use up all the stock and rice becomes soft but remains al dente (approximately 18-20 minutes). Add the rest of the cream fraiche and stir. Add grated Parmesan, cooked mushrooms and herbs, stir and serve immediately sprinkled with parsley and shaved Parmesan.