I made an awful lot of Mushroom Ragout and had to use it up…I spent a lot of money on those mushrooms and time on preparing them…what to do…what to do? First I am going to make a mushroom risotto, that is what. Just so we are clear on the time-line: I made the ragout for Thursday (Thanksgiving); then I made a mushroom risotto on Saturday to eat with leftovers (from Thanksgiving); then Monday we had a potluck dinner and I made a big batch of mushroom risotto which prompted the posts.
Right, so here it is…Mushroom risotto. The hardest part of risotto is knowing when to stop – stop too soon and you get hard rice – stop too late and you get mushy rice. It’s not like long grain rice that you bring to a boil and then continue cooking on a low light covered for exactly 20 minutes and it is perfect. Risotto requires love, tender nurturing to bring out its most soul warming qualities.
There is a perception that risotto requires constant stirring and attention and that it is, frankly, a pain in the ass to make. This is absolutely not the case…well, the attention part is true but not the pain in the ass part or the constant stirring (I prefer frequent). One must be well prepared with nearly boiling stock or liquid, so it does require two pots and one cannot stray from the kitchen for more than a minute while making it because it does require frequent stirring. The cooking time for basic risotto is only about 30 minutes from start to finish and if you have some beautiful Mushroom Ragout waiting in the fridge you can experience the transcendental perfection that will lift your spirits to the heavens.
This is the way I make risotto…I am sure that the basic recipe came from somewhere…I don’t know where…the important thing to remember is that this is a guide, you can add things like: other vegetables, stocks, wines, cooked ingredients, cheeses; or take everything away and just make white rice using the “risotto” method…the choice is yours.
Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as an entree
1 generous cup of Mushroom Ragout or you could gather about a pound of mushrooms and prepare the ragout while you cook the rice, keep in mind that it is important not to overcook the mushrooms which will be added to the rice at the second to last minute of cooking.
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
½ cup minced shallots
1 cup of dry white wine (for this batch I used 1 cup of triple chicken stock…post to follow)
1-2 tsp sea salt (I like to add the salt incrementally when I add boiling liquid)
3-4 cups boiling (or nearly boiling…ok, very, very hot) liquid (water, vegetable stock, chicken stock, beef stock, fish stock etc.)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 Tbsp freshly snipped chives
Start by heating the liquid you are going to stir into the rice, often I use water especially if I want white risotto (risotto bianco). Next heat a saute pan or shallow sauce pan over medium to medium high heat for the rice, add the olive oil and then the shallots, don’t let the oil smoke. Once the shallots are translucent add the rice, stirring to coat each and every grain with lovely shallot scented oil. The utensil you use should have a flat edge at the tip so you can move all of
the rice on the bottom of the pan, any rice left in one spot too long could burn. Add the wine and stir to combine …add some salt (again I used gelled chicken stock for my first addition for this batch). The wine does not have to be hot because this is the first addition and the rice has not begun to cook yet. You only need the subsequent additions to be hot so that it will not arrest the cooking of the rice when you add them, you don’t want to confuse the rice. Stir the rice frequently but not constantly, stirring becomes more important as you get closer to the point where all of the liquid is
absorbed. Pay careful attention to the bottom of the pot, if it seems like the rice is starting to scorch you may need to turn the heat down a bit. Once most of wine is absorbed add about ½ cup of your hot liquid, stir it into the rice. Again stir frequently but not constantly until most of the liquid is absorbed…add some salt. You will do this same thing about 4 times before you try a few grains. You will know that the rice is done when the grains you taste have a firm but uniform texture without being gummy. A gummy texture means that you have added one too many additions of hot liquid…try one less next time. Once the rice is done add the mushrooms, the butter, the cream, and the cheese…fold this together. Then taste for final seasoning, it should be perfect. Garnish with chives and fall in love. Not a dish for every day, but great when you need something uplifting, Enjoy!