I love risotto, and beyond the obvious loving to eat risotto, I love to make risotto. Let me be clear: making risotto is not hard, but it takes a long time. It is a labor of love. If you cringe at the idea of standing in front of a stove for an hour or so, this recipe is not for you.
If you’re like me, however, and the thought of sauteing mushrooms, stirring slowly in mindful meditation, sipping on a glass of red wine, breathing in the rich scent of slow-cooked butter and the forest floor, this is for you. Put on some good music (we played Sigur Ros this time, and I’ve enjoyed Over the Rhine in the past, but any warm mellow music will work), prep all your ingredients, pour yourself a glass, and get cooking.
Making risotto is not a chore that we have to do sometimes. Making risotto is something we get to do, when we have the time, when we have the right mindset. It’s a little mini-vacation in the kitchen. A labor of love.
NOTES: Homemade broth is best (vegetable, chicken, lamb—oh lamb would be great!). I make my broth in big batches and then freeze it for future use. If you’re doing this, be sure to thaw it and bring it to room temperature before using, and I find it helpful to have my stock close by in a quart jar for easy measuring. Also, yes, butter is necessary—accept no substitutions. And finally, most risotto recipes call for arborio rice. I personally love using brown rice, have also made it with red rice, a wild rice blend, and quinoa. You might want to follow the recipe straight the first time till you get the hang of it, but after that, feel free to experiment! Plus then you can play with the name—quinotto, milletto, etc. (I haven’t tried this yet with millet, but I would love to! I also wonder if oat groats might hold up to it… if you try it, let me know how it goes!)
- 6 Tbsp butter, divided
- 14 oz. fresh crimini mushrooms (or your favorite fungus), sliced
- 2 4-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 small onion or half a large onion, diced
- 1 1/2 c. long grain brown rice
- 1/2 c. red wine (see, some of it even makes it into the food!)
- 4 c. good-quality stock (I use chicken)
- 1/2 c. parmesan
- salt and pepper to taste
Prep all ingredients in advance—you will thank yourself later while you placidly stir, humming along with your music of choice. If you don’t prep, you will not enjoy the process quite as much 🙂
Heat a broad-bottomed deep skillet over medium. When it is hot, add 4 Tbsp of the butter and melt. Add the mushrooms, stirring constantly, about 8 minutes. At first they’ll soak up all the liquid, but then as they cook the juices will come out and become nice and brown and bubbly and smells oh-so-good… Use a slotted spoon to remove the mushrooms from the pan, leaving the juice. Set mushrooms aside.
Add to the skillet the remaining 2 Tbsp butter, then the garlic, onion, and rosemary. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes till the onion is softened and starting to turn translucent. Add the rice and stir, coating it with the butter, for 2 or 3 minutes—the rice will become shiny and semi-translucent. Add the mushrooms back in, and add the wine. Stir to combine.
Add 1/2 cup of broth at a time, each time waiting until the prior addition has been mostly absorbed before added more. Stir constantly. This will take a while. Settle in, relax, enjoy it. Continue adding and stirring until the rice is just softened but still has a touch of firmness to it (Snoopy said, “It ain’t over till Al says ‘Dente!'”). This was at exactly four cups of stock for me, but if it takes less, it takes less. If you need more liquid, add more water from a teapot or wine or stock if you have it on hand. You get the picture.
Once the risotto is just about done, remove the rosemary sprigs, then stir in the parmesan. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper (I don’t think I’ve ever had to add salt, but fresh ground pepper is great). Garnish with grated parm and maybe some fresh parsley.
Serves 4 as a main course, 6 to 8 as a side dish.
What’s your favorite risotto combination? brainstorms? favorite moody cooking music?