I ain’t afraid of risotto!

If you’ve read any cookbooks or watched any shows on Food Network, you’ve heard the risotto horror stories. Oh, it’s so easy to mess up. You have to stir it constantly. I mean constantly! It’s just too hard, too time-consuming, too temperamental.

I got interested in risotto after watching an episode of “Chopped” on the Food Network. I’d heard the horror stories and thought risotto was something I couldn’t do . . . but sometimes, with me, those words present a challenge. I had to try it. Even if I crashed and burned, no one would know but me. So, one day, I made my first risotto and loved it. It was creamy, savory, filling, and the perfect side dish but could easily become the star of the meal. And it’s so versatile. You can add whatever flavors you want, whatever ingredients you want, and whatever liquids you want to create a new and exciting dish every time you make it. Today, I give you one of my favorites and my own recipe: Mushroom and Rosemary Risotto.

Ready? Here we go:

1. Begin warming the three cups of chicken stock in a sauce pan. I say three cups, but that’s a guess. I just poured chicken stock into the sauce pan until it looked right. Cause that’s how I roll. You want it to be warm because the way you make risotto is to add heated liquid to the rice.

2. Sauté the finely chopped green onions in about three tablespoons of olive oil. I say about three tablespoons because I didn’t measure and just took three turns around the skillet, à la Rachael Ray. You could use about half of a chopped white or yellow onion if you wanted, but I had green onions and they add a nice freshness and color to the dish. Cook these for a few minutes, I’d say about three, or until they begin to look a little wilted and are beginning to get fragrant.

3. Add in the mushrooms and sauté for about two or three more minutes, then add in the garlic. Allow this to cook together for 2-3 minutes, then add the rice and the rosemary and other spices (Italian seasoning, salt and pepper), if you like. Turn the heat down on your burner. I sautéed at 5 on my stove, which is about medium heat, and turned it down to 3 when I added the rice.

4. The rice is important. Please, please, please use arborio rice. Trust me, you won’t be sorry. It’s an Italian rice that’s traditionally used to make risotto and it’s kind of amazing. When you add the rice, you basically want to kind of toast it in the remaining oil. Watch it carefully and look for part of the rice to become translucent, then take on a slightly toasted look. You do need to stir periodically at this point because if you don’t, the rice will burn and it won’t be good.

5. Add 1/2 cup white cooking wine. Stir periodically, but not constantly. Allow the rice to cook in the wine until the liquid is completely absorbed.

6. Add two ladles of chicken stock to the risotto. Stir and watch, but don’t do either constantly. The goal with risotto is to add the warmed liquid a little at a time, letting the rice absorb the liquid completely before adding more.

7. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream, stir, and stir and watch until the cream is absorbed. The cream makes this risotto. It makes it creamy and yummy. You can choose not to, but believe me, you will regret it.

8. Continue adding the chicken stock a ladle at a time until all of the liquid has been added. Remember to let each ladle be absorbed before you add the next ladle. And you do need to stir a lot as you’re doing this because the rice will stick to the bottom of the skillet and burn if you don’t.

9. Just to take this dish over the top, add in the 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Stir until melted, which shouldn’t take long. The risotto should be creamy and the rice should be soft without any crunch.

10. Serve as a side dish with chicken or beef, or if you’re just in the mood for a simple dinner, then dig in!

3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup white mushrooms, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (if you use dried rosemary, use less.)
1 palmful Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white cooking wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
About 3 cups warmed chicken stock
1/2 cup shredded cheese (Italian mix, Parmesan, Reggiano

Skill level: Medium to difficult because of the constant attention and stirring

Soundtrack: The beginning of the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony


5 thoughts on “I ain’t afraid of risotto!”

  1. I’m going to try. I haven’t been able to watch a lot of the Tuesday stuff because I have a Bible study on Tuesday nights. I’m a couple episodes behind on the DVR. I may just start watching with the top 24 and blog from there. 🙂

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