Years ago, I emailed my good friend Marina, a 1st generation Italian to ask if she would help me learn to make risotto properly. She is from the northern region of Italy, and told me that she grew up on risotto and that her Mama cooked as I do.. never measuring, but that Mama could make even the simplest of risotto dishes exquisitely and would 'fill your belly'. :) After 4 emails and two phone calls, I finally got it right! To this day I do not know why I thought making risotto would be so difficult to prepare. I now make risotto routinely here.. all kinds of risotto and my family never tires of my varieties. Me..? I could eat it daily! So, thanks again so very much bella Marina for sharing your method with me.
Risotto is a creamy, moist rice dish that is relatively easy to make and such a far cry from a typical steamed long-grain rice.. even though they are made from the very same basic ingredients. But it is important to know, the rice used for risotto is a particuliar variety.. Arborio..is clearly the 'something special' used in all great risotto's.
A short-grained rice, rich in starch, which is slowly and carefully cooked in such a way that the rice releases it's starch resulting in a creamy consistency while the grains of rice remain whole.
Since risotto is such a simple dish, always use the best ingredients you can find. I think much of the quality and goodness of risotto lies heavily on a high-quality arborio rice, the freshest of vegetables, good wine, flavorful stock, real butter... and twenty minutes!
Try not to rush the cooking process... you'll be so pleased with the results! Keep in mind though, that making risotto does require attention to achieve that deliciously creamy consistency--from coating the rice with oil or butter, to adding in the stock just a ladleful at a time, to allow the rice absorbtion of liquids gradually. Remember to gently stir the risotto frequently after each addition of your stock and you will soon be rewarded with a creamy in texture, tender, but still firm to the bite and wonderfully moist and delicious risotto every time.
Here is my Wild Mushroom Risotto. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do.
6 TBLS of unsalted butter
1 lb cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 shallots, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
6 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 tsp low-salt soy sauce
1 oz dried porchini mushrooms (pre-soaked in water) (reserve the liquid)
1 oz dried **black & white fungi strips -optional- (found in Asian grocer)
1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 TBL fresh lemon juice
Ground black pepper
Heat 6 cups of chicken stock. Keep it warm.
Melt 2 TBLS butter over medium heat. Add cremeni mushrooms and minced onion and cook until the mushrooms are browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and keep warm.
Now add remaining butter to your empty mushroom pan and garlic.. sauteeing the garlic for 30 seconds or so on medium heat. Pour in the rice and cook until the edges become transluscent, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. DO NOT brown your rice. Now add your wine and cook until the rice has almost completely absorbed it, about 2 more minutes. Ladle in 2 cup of warmed chicken stock, slowly, add soy sauce and pre-soaked porcini and ** black & white fungi strips if used, scraping up any rice that sticks. Give it a good stir. Cover your pan and continue simmering on low heat until nearly all your liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.
Uncover pan now, stir rice well and add your remaining warm stock by ladleful.. making sure all liquid has been absorbed before adding in your next ladleful... cooking over medium heat and stirring often, until the rice grains are mostly tender, about 2-3 minutes.
Now replace your pan lid and let the risotto sit off the heat until it has nicely thickened, and the grains completely tender. Before serving, stir in the sauteed cremini mushrooms and shallots, Parmesan cheese,lemon juice and pepper to taste. Enjoy!