creamy mushroom risotto

A creamy take on an Italian classic that highlights its ingredients.

Core ingredients:

1 cup arborio rice (not all rice is created equal)

2 cups vegetable broth (or 2 cups water + bouillon cube)

1 cup water

16 oz sliced portabello mushrooms (or any flavorful mushroom)

2 tbsp minced garlic

1/4 onion

1/2 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, etc)

2 tbsp heavy cream

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese

Ground black pepper

 

Optional ingredients:

Chopped parsley (garnish)

 

Directions:

  1. In a pot, add broth and water (3 cups total) to arborio rice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and leave covered while you prepare the rest. Simmer until only 1/3 of the water remains, but do not allow to cook until all water is gone.
  2. Chop the onion as shown here. Dice the mushrooms into 1/2 inch cubes.
  3. In a large pan, heat butter over medium heat until bubbling. Add onion and mushrooms, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes until onions are translucent.
  4. Add garlic and sauté another minute until fragrant.
  5. Add the arborio rice and broth to the pan and stir. The liquid should continue to simmer at medium heat. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add salt and wine, stirring for 2 minutes as the alcohol evaporates. Continue to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid is gone and the rice sticks slightly to the pan (even if it’s non-stick).
  7. Add cream and stir, reducing heat to low. Remove from heat once risotto is thick, about 1 – 2 minutes later.
  8. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and parsley.

The good stuff:

The basics matter

When three Google engineers created Golang (a programming language less than a decade old), they did so because they believed software developers deserved a language with better fundamentals. What the world got was a language that was faster, more concise, and less prone to common errors, proving that the quality of the basic ingredients of a programming language can have a large impact on the resulting software.

 

go doSomethingUseful()

Trust me, the word “go” is magical.

 

You might know already that basic techniques matter in cooking. Ingredients are the same way — better ingredients do  make better meals. Mushroom risotto is a classic dish that’s shockingly easy to prepare, as long as you stick to quality ingredients.

I’m a huge proponent of replacing ingredients in dishes with what you have around, except when it comes to risotto. As tempting as it may be to grab the wild rice from the back of your cupboard, spend the premium for arborio at the store if you want to enjoy your meal. Shaving a block of Parmesan yourself will provide a much better flavor profile than the shredded cheese out of a plastic package. When it comes to the mushrooms, it’s worthwhile splurging on portobello or cremini over the standard white button mushrooms.

Full disclosure, I can’t name half of those mushroom types.

An upgrade on creaminess

Great ingredients will bring great flavors to this dish, but the texture is equally important to support it. My approach to risotto is non-traditional, but it’ll ensure you nail the texture without worrying about what al dente rice should feel like. Cooking the rice on it’s own at first reduces the amount of time it needs. The sauté of the mushrooms in butter leaves oils to fry the rice when it’s added later in the process. For the best texture, make sure you let the rice stick a bit to the pan. Adding the cream at the end will elevate the velvety character of the dish — just make sure the heat is low when you’re mixing it in.

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