Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Ristotto so comforting, satisfying.  You see it on the menu at our favorite Italian restaurant and you coo "Ooh I'm having the risotto.  It's $18, but I could never make this so it's totally worth it!" It comes to the table, you get giddy.  Everyone else at the table eyes your bowl with envy, wishing they had ordered the risotto.  Dude you paid $18 for a bowl of Italian rice.  
To say "rice", not a big deal, say "risotto",  just got mysterious. 
All risottos are made with: butter, onion, arborio rice, wine, stock, and cheese. 
You say "That's not so mysterious.  Kinda like a rice pilaf".  Exactly!  Instead of adding all the liquid at once, you add it a little at a time while you stir, and add cheese at the end.
Now that you know basic risotto, you can change it up.  Mushrooms and aspargus in the spring, butternut squash in the winter.
It's an extra step, but I prefer to roast the asparagus over sauteing.  I find the roasting gives more depth of flavor to the dish.  If I am feeling lazy, I will skip the oven and throw the asparagus in the pan with the mushrooms and shallots.  It's still yummy.
This recipe may take about 45 minutes to prepare, start to finish, and that's being generous. 
Now the mystery has been solved, you'll be saying "$18 for risotto!  I can totally make that at home!"

Serves 4 to 6

4 cups              Vegi or chicken stock, low or no sodium
2 cups              Water
¼ cup               Dried mushrooms, chopped small (I use a blend of wild mushrooms)
2 cups              Asparagus cut to about 1” pieces
2 Tbsp             Olive oil, divided
3 Tbsp             Butter, divided
1                      Leek, diced small, white part only
1                      Shallot, minced
8 oz                  Button mushrooms, quartered
½ tsp                Dried rosemary
2 cups              Arborio rice
½ cup               Dry white wine
2 Tbsp             Butter
¼ cup               Heavy cream
½ cup               Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup               Fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
*1- 2 tsp          Truffle oil (optional)

1.                  Pre heat oven to 425.
2.                  Add the stock, water and dried mushrooms into a medium sauce pan, over medium low heat.  Taste the liquid to see if it needs salt, this will flavor the rice, no flavor in the liquid, means no flavor in the risotto!
3.                  On a sheet pan, put the asparagus pieces, with 1 Tbsp of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Roast 12 to 15 minutes. 
4.                  Mean while, in a large heavy bottomed skillet, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp butter, leeks, shallots, button mushrooms, rosemary and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat, until the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms have a little golden color.
5.                  Add the rice, cook stirring 1-2 minutes, until all the rice is coated in oil and begin to become translucent.
6.                  Add the white wine. Cook stirring until the wine is absorbed into the rice.
7.                  Now the fun part, this takes about 20 minutes.  Start with adding two ladles of warm stock to the rice. Stir continually and gently.  If you need to step away from the stove for a moment, like to remove the asparagus from the oven, or answer the cordless phone, the rice will survive.
8.                  When the liquid is mostly absorbed add one more ladle of stock (don’t forget those dried mushrooms), and continue stirring.  Repeat.  Taste the risotto, the grains should be slightly firm (al dente), not mushy, but if it’s too firm add another ladle. 
9.                  When the last ladle of liquid is about half absorbed, add the butter, cream, parmesan, parsley, pepper, salt if needed, and optional truffle oil. Some truffle oils are less potent than others, so you need to taste it, start with about a tsp, and go from there.

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