How to make a great mushroom risotto? You need the right ingredients and technique

ASK THE CHEF

February 13, 2005|By Jim Coleman and Candace Hagan | By Jim Coleman and Candace Hagan,Knight Ridder / Tribune

Recently I was very fortunate to dine at a fabulous restaurant. While I was there, the chef prepared a mushroom risotto that was to die for. I must have that recipe (or at least something comparable)! Let's take a look at what makes a risotto great.

First, you have to have the correct rice -- Italian arborio. You can make risotto out of other types of rice; you can even make a risotto type of dish from barley. But arborio rice makes it the best.

The next critical ingredient is the cheese -- it must be real Parmigiano-Reggiano, not something that comes out of a can.

When it comes to cooking risotto, remember a couple of things. First, keep the broth or stock hot while you are cooking your risotto, and, second, add your broth slowly.

Do not dump it in all at once because Oprah has a great guest on -- add it incrementally by at least thirds and divide it even more if you are making a large portion.

Last, but not least, is the stirring. Risotto does not like to be ignored. I don't mean you have to chain yourself to the stove, but as you go about preparing the rest of your meal give the pot a stir every few minutes.

Must-Have Mushroom Risotto

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic

1 cup diced yellow onion

1/2 cup diced carrot

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced

1 cup fresh button or cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 cups Italian arborio rice

5 1/2 cups chicken stock, heated and kept warm

1/2 cup dry sherry

1/2 cup diced Roma tomato

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a large saute pan heat the oil and add the garlic and onion. Saute for 1 minute, then add the carrots and saute another minute. Add both types of mushrooms and continue to saute for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked through. Next add the dry rice and saute for 2 more minutes, taking care not to burn the mixture. Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly begin incorporating 1/3 of the stock and sherry while stirring. As the rice begins to absorb the liquid, add additional increments of stock and sherry, stirring often. When the mixture appears thick and creamy, add the tomato, thyme, salt and pepper. Remove the risotto from the stove, fold in the cheese and serve.

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