Risotto has earned a very unfair reputation as a difficult dish. SoupAddict can’t force you to change your mind about what is difficult and what is not, but, here’s the real scoop, because SoupAddict wants everyone to make risotto and be happy about it. Risotto has only three requirements: (1) you have to be near the stove for a half hour, (2) you absolutely must trust the liquid requirements in a given recipe no matter how large they seem, and (3) and you have to know how to stir.
Myth: you do not have to hover over the pan for 30 minutes, stirring until your arm falls off. Maybe that’s how the pros do it, but if so, I honestly can’t tell the difference between what I make at home, and what I’ve had in restaurants. And that’s not because SoupAddict has mad risotto skills. It’s simply because risotto is easy.
Clear your mind of the scenes in Hell’s Kitchen where Gordon is yelling at the pleebs about the risotto. (These are, afterall, the same quasi-professionals who week after week put out rawr scallops.) No, you’ll do much better. Trust SoupAddict on this one. This time, she’s being honest with you.
So, repeat after SoupAddict: Risotto is easy, risotto is easy, risotto is easy.
There. Now that that’s settled, let’s get crackin’, okay?
Porcini mushrooms are easiest to find in dried form, and I highly recommend them this way. Rehydrate for 20 minutes in hot water, and you’ll have not only mushrooms, but a really flavorful stock. (When a recipe doesn’t call for using the stock, I always save it – pour through a coffee filter to catch the grit, then freeze it.)
The secret to creamy risotto has nothing to do with dairy. During its long cook and frequent injections of much liquid, the rice gives off starch, which turns rich and creamy. At the beginning of the liquid addition, the rice should be stirred well every few minutes. Towards the end — the final 5-10 minutes — you’ll want to be near the pan at all times, keeping an eye on the liquids and, of course, stirring (the rice should never be allowed to dry out nor stick to the bottom of the pan).
Yes! Success! I even prepped a salad and set the table while minding the risotto. But the ease of the dish can be our little secret, okay? You have every right to wow your peeps with your awesome risotto talents.
adapted from Food & Wine
Note: my adaptation of this recipe from the original involved primarily decreasing the quantity of ingredients so that I would need only one quart of vegetable stock, which was all I had on hand. For more servings, refer to the link above.
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about 1/2 cup, loosely packed)
1 cup boiling water
4 cups vegetable stock or low-sodium broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
6 ounces fresh shiitake or cremini mushrooms, stems removed and caps cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 1/4 cups arborio rice (about 9 ounces)
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus Parmesan shavings for garnish
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Yield: 6 servings
1. Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in the boiling water until softened, about 20 minutes. Remove them from the soaking liquid and coarsely chop. Reserve the mushroom soaking liquid, allowing any grit to settle to the bottom.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a boil. Cover and keep the stock at a bare simmer over low heat.
3. In a large saucepan or dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they soften and release their liquids, about 4 minutes. Add the rice to the pan and cook, stirring, until well coated, about 1 minute.
4. Add the white wine to the rice and simmer until it has almost evaporated. Add the chopped porcini mushrooms and the reserved mushroom soaking liquid, stopping before you reach the grit at the bottom. Add enough hot stock to just cover the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the stock has been absorbed. Add 1/2 cup more stock. Continue cooking and stirring, adding more stock in 1/2 cup increments as it is absorbed, until the rice is just tender and a creamy sauce forms, about 25 minutes. The risotto should be more saucy than ricey, but not at all soupy. Okayey?
5. Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter and the grated Parmesan cheese. Season the risotto with salt and pepper and ladle it into shallow bowls. Top the risotto with Parmesan shavings and serve.