Mushroom Parmesan Risotto
Risottos are one of the finer things that Northern Italy has contributed to the rest of the world. This is a dish made with short grain rice and simmered with broth, and then finished with butter and just about any additions the creative cook can imagine. Mushrooms and Parmesan cheese are a classic combination, and that's what I've out lined here.
There really aren't that many tricks to risotto, although many people approach it with caution. Use short grain rice whenever possible - it contains more starch. the starch in the shorter grains releases into the warm broth as the rice cooks, creating that creamy luciousness that's so to-die-for. Warm your broth before you use it. That will help release the starch, resulting in a creamier texture. And don't forget to saute your rice in a little butter and wine or broth, before you begin the stirring and brothing part. The toasty golden color that results from this step adds amazing flavor and richness.
That's about it. Risotto can take on any number of savory flavors - experiment with anything you wish. Alter the wines, the herbs, the broths - play with it! Give it a shot and you'll find yourself with a new favorite side dish - or with the addition of a little protein - a new favorite main dish!
- 1 1/2 cups short grain rice
- 1/4 stick butter
- 1/4 cup of dry white wine or chicken broth
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 cups chicken broth or stock, hot
- 1 cup sauteed or Toasted Mushrooms
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- Over medium heat in a large saucepan, melt 2 Tbl of the butter. Saute shallot and garlic for about 3 minutes, or until beginning to turn fragrant. Add the thyme to the pot.
- Add rice to the pot, and saute for five minutes, or until beginning to turn toasty golden brown, like in the first picture.
- Add wine or broth, and cook until the pan is nearly dry, stirring well.
- With a ladle, dip the hot broth into the rice, and stir well. You want to keep the liquid level of the pan very low - just where the rice looks very wet, like in the second picture.
- Risotto doesn't have to be completely watched, but don't go get on the phone or mow the lawn. Stir it nearly constantly, and as the liquid is absorbed add more. The total cooking time is just about 20 minutes once you begin to add the chicken broth. When nearing the end of this cooking time and getting to the last of your broth, taste for doneness. You should be just about there.
- Once the risotto is at just barely past al dente, remove from the heat, and stir in the Parmesan and Toasted Mushrooms. Taste, and adjust for seasoning. Top with fresh parsley, and serve immediately.
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