I think this is my favorite risotto recipe.
I love mushrooms though. I had a roommate once who would not eat mushrooms since they happen to be a fungus, and that was just against her personal philosophy or something. Not that she'd tried them and hated them, but she just refused to try them. Too bad for her (because there are so many kinds of them and they're so good). Oh, well.
Dried Porcini mushrooms aren't much to look at, but they add TONS of flavor to chicken broth. And the color goes from a weak, watery gold to a more robust, ruddy brown.
It's an earthy and special dish, really good for cold weather, and would make a great vegetarian dish if you wanted to use vegetable broth...
I used 3 types of mushrooms in this one: dried porcini, white button, and baby portobellos (aka crimini mushrooms). To me more types of mushrooms = more complexity. But, I won't say we have to go overboard here.
The white mushrooms are nice (as always), but the portobellos add a nicer flavor (in my opinion, anyway). They're the same mushroom, but the white variety is actually a cultivated anomaly of the browner and more mature portobello.
So, perhaps it's my imagination, but I think they're meatier and earthier.
If all you can find, or all you want to use is white button mushrooms, that's just fine!
When making risotto, it's very important to use risotto rice: Carnaroli, Arborio, or Vialone Nano. In the U.S. however, you're likely to find it labeled as "risotto rice." These types are short- grained, starchy, able to absorb a lot of liquid, and will yield a firm, chewy, and creamy risotto. If you were to use generic white rice, you'd end up with something a little more akin to mush or gruel. Mmmmm, lovely.
It's important to keep stirring! You want the grains to cook evenly, stay in contact with liquid so it can be absorbed evenly by the grains, and you want to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot! However, "drowning" the rice in too much broth isn't a good idea either if it happens to seem like a remedy to this situation. One of the keys to a creamy risotto is slowly adding the hot broth. And really, it doesn't take that long to make risotto, patience is possible.
Plus, if you decide to increase the amount of risotto you're making, the good news is that it doesn't add much extra time to your cooking.
Oh! And you may not need to use all of the broth for the rice- that's ok!
Confused about whether it's done? Taste it!
P.S. I'm aware that rice is not pasta, but that's just how I decided to classify it because it can fill the same need.
6 side-dish servings
6 c chicken stock
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 c unsalted butter
2 c chopped onion
10 oz pkg baby portobellos, washed and sliced
8 oz white button mushrooms, washed and sliced
(*at least 1 # of mushrooms total- it could be ALL white button mushrooms if you wish)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 c risotto rice, preferably Arborio
2/3 c white wine
2/3 c finely grated, fresh Parmesan cheese
Bring the broth to a simmer in a heavy medium-sized saucepan. Add porcini mushrooms, cover and set aside for at least 15 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms and chop finely. Cover the broth and keep warm over low heat.
Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, porcini, and garlic. Saute until the mushrooms are tender and most of the juices have evaporated, about 1o minutes.
Stir in the rice and cook, while stirring a few minutes so that the grains are coated with butter and mushroom. Add the wine and cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed- this should only take a couple minutes! Add 1 cup of broth and stir the rice mixture. Simmer the risotto over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed. Add more broth by the cupful as it is absorbed by the rice. Continue cooking, adding broth, and stirring until the rice is tender and the mixture is creamy, about 30 minutes or so.
Mix in the Parmesan cheese and season the risotto with salt and pepper to taste.