I try to keep arborio rice on hand at all times. It’s a great option for nights where I don’t have a whole lot of ingredients on hand, though I typically stock the basic ingredients needed to make risotto. To make my basic risotto I use: arborio rice, butter, olive oil, onion, white wine, chicken broth, salt/pepper, and parmesan cheese. The combination of these humble and simple ingredients makes for a rich, creamy, and satisfying dish that can be served either as the main dish or as a a side.
Risotto isn’t necessarily difficult to prepare, but it does require quite a bit of attention. You’re pretty much going to be a slave to your stove for the better part of 25 minutes, constantly stirring and adding cupfuls of hot broth to the rice. I actually like this about risotto. It’s a nice moment in my day where I really can’t be doing anything other than paying attention to my food, so it’s a good moment to relax, stir, and enjoy a nice glass of wine (you may want to put the kids in front of a movie, at this point).
It’s also a really versatile dish. I have enjoyed risotto with: tomato and basil, sauteed seafood, roasted peppers, and an oxtail ragu. Its versatility makes it the perfect dish to get creative and experiment around a bit. The one drawback of risotto is that it really needs to be eaten as soon as it’s done cooking, so you need to be diligent about the timing of any additional components to your meal, so that the risotto doesn’t sit for too long.
- 8 cups chicken broth
- ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups finely chopped onions
- 10 oz white mushrooms, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ cups Arborio rice
- ⅔ cup white wine
- ¾ cup frozen peas (I used steamed fresh)
- ⅔ cup grated Parmesan
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bring the broth to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the porcini mushrooms. Set aside until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Keep the broth warm over very low heat.
- Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes.
- Add the white mushrooms and garlic.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the porcini mushrooms to a cutting board. Finely chop the mushrooms and add to the saucepan. Saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the rice and let it toast for a few minutes.
- Add the wine; cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 2 minutes.
- Add 1 cup of hot broth; simmer over medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 3 minutes.
- Continue to cook until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, adding more broth by cupfuls and stirring often, about 28 minutes (the rice will absorb 6 to 8 cups of broth).
- Stir in the peas and parmesan.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
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