February 9, 2010

Blow your frickin mind Risotto

Mmmmmmmm - Risotto! Delicious and creamy and salty. It's like nothing else on the planet. My friend Steph made champagne risotto for her boyfriend Chad's birthday a few weeks back, and ever since she told me about it, I haven't been able to stop thinking about risotto...I had to make it.

Of course, that was last week and I didn't use a recipe and I've killed plenty of braincells between now and then...but I will try to remember exactly what I did. The best part of risotto, though (rhyme!), is that it doesn't matter! The principle is the same - slowly cook Arborio rice while you stir in liquid (like broth) and it gets creamy and moist and wonderful! You can add whatever the heck you want to it (I used asparagus, shiitake mushrooms and Parmesan cheese)! Here is what I did (I think):

Asparagus and Shiitake Mushroom Risotto (serves 6 as a side dish)
  • 1.5 cups of Arborio rice (don't substitute...I have used other kinds of rice and it is not the same. Trust me)
  • 1-2 shallots
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil or butter 
  • lots of chicken broth (I think I used at least 5-6 cups of the fat free, low sodium kind)
  • bunch of asparagus
  • package of shiitake mushrooms (or other wild mushrooms)
  • 1.5 cups of high quality Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • ground thyme
 Ok - first, it is helpful to get everything prepped before you start the rice. The reason for this is that you will be a slave to the stove once the rice goes in. So - finely chop your shallots and garlic. Clean the mushrooms and slice them into bite-sized pieces, clean the asparagus (break off the woody stems) and cut them into bite sized pieces, grate the parm cheese (or beg your boyfriend to please do it...see pic below), dump your chicken broth into a medium saucepan/pot and start heating it.

Melt some butter in a large saute pan (or you could use a dutch oven), and saute the mushrooms, set aside. Add more butter (or oil) if necessary and saute the shallots and garlic until they are tender. When the chicken broth is simmering, blanch the asparagus (in the broth) for 2 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside with the mushrooms.

When the shallots and garlic are tender, add the rice...stir around to coat it with the butter/garlic/shallots and just cook on medium heat for a few minutes...add the wine and stir until it is absorbed...then start adding the chicken broth 1/2 cup - 1 cup at a time. You can start with a larger amount but as it gets more done, you might want to add smaller amounts; stirring constantly. As soon as the liquid is almost absorbed, add more and continue to stir. Keep doing that and checking the rice for done-ness every so often, and adding salt, pepper and thyme to taste (keep in mind that parm cheese is salty - so don't over do the salt please). Once the rice is almost completely cooked, throw in the asparagus and mushrooms. Right before you serve it, throw in the parmesan cheese. Then thank your maker for giving us something as delicious as risotto. Steve grilled some shrimp while I was stirring (marinated in butter, garlic and Worcestershire sauce), and we had the shrimp and risotto with a glass of nice white wine.

You could also serve it with a salad, or a piece of grilled fish. Or pretty much anything. Seriously - a note on substitutes: you can put almost anything in risotto. If you want red peppers or leeks or squash or tomatoes or no vegetables at all, fine. If you want to use veggie broth instead of chicken broth and make it vegetarian, fine. If you want to add diced up chicken, shrimp, scallops or tofu, I certainly won't stop you. Champagne instead of wine? No alcohol at all? Cheese, no cheese - I don't care. Make it how you want it. Just make it. Soon. And smile!
PS - Someday, if you are lucky, I will share Grandma Grow's risotto recipe with you...it was my first introduction to risotto, and it is still one of my favorite comfort foods. But not today. That would just be a yummy-ness overload.

Printable Recipe

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