Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's not dessert, but risotto's a piece of cake

Photo: Wikipedia.com
Are you familiar with "risotto"? If you peek at Wikipedia, they will tell you that "Risotto is a class of Italian dishes of rice cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy."

Yes, it is cooked rice, and it is a bit more complicated than Minute Rice from a box, but it's also far more satisfying. Last October 2nd, I helped you make pumpkin risotto. Today we'll make a mushroom risotto, just like the one I cooked yesterday for my husband for our anniversary.

But first, let's talk about the rice. The most important part of risotto is the rice. Don't run to your cupboard and grab a box of Uncle Ben's or a sack of generic long-grain rice. It won't work. You need a short-grain arborio rice. Arborio rice has a higher starch content and remains firm (al dente) when cooked--that is exactly what you want and need for a proper risotto. Risotto is creamy, but not mushy. The grains remain gently "toothy" but are enveloped in a creamy cloak which results from the mixing of the starch with the liquids in which the rice simmers.

Mushroom Risotto
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used button and cremini)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 to 4 cups hot broth (chicken, vegetable, or mushroom)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese

In large frying pan melt 1 tablespoon butter with olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft, about 2 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and cook until lightly browned (3 to 4 minutes). Stir in thyme.

Add 1/4 cup of the wine and cook until wine is absorbed. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add rice, pepper, and remaining 1/2 cup white wine. Stir to insure that rice does not clump together and cook until wine is absorbed. Add 1 cup broth, reduce heat to low, and stir until broth is almost absorbed. Continue to add broth, 1/2 cup at a time and stirring until rice is creamy and tender but still firm in center. This should take about 15 to 18 minutes.

Stir in mushrooms.

Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan and mascarpone cheese.

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