Updated: Aug 26, 2021
Risotto always intimidated me; it seemed precise and unforgiving (recipe link). I'd watch so many contestants on those cooking shows botch a risotto dish and be sent home without dinner. I'm glad I got over that because this preparation has become a weeknight staple for us. It does require more attention and patience than most dishes, but - with this recipe - you'll have an open bottle of pinot grigio to see you through all of the stirring. The result is a rich, woodsy dish that makes a nice standalone dinner for two with plenty of leftovers, or as a side to roast poultry or pork. Swap the chicken stock for veggie stock to make it vegetarian.
This recipe yields a risotto where all of the liquid is absorbed, and the result isn't "soupy." I've come to learn that there's some controversy to this preparation (controversy? In Italian cuisine? Unbelievable.). For risotto I've, perhaps foolishly, followed the same principle as pasta: each noodle maintains its integrity, and the sauce is a garnish, not the main event. So, in this preparation, you experience the texture of each grain of rice. I'm sure some bureaucrat from the Italian Risotto Authority will come fine me if I'm doing this wrong. At any rate, risotto also allows for customization, so if you prefer "soupy" risotto, reserve more porcini broth and/or add more stock, it's entirely up to you. See! Risotto isn't that precise.
4-6 healthy servings of risotto
.5 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 - 1.5 cups porcini broth
3 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons e.v. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (130g)
2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli Rice
40g salted butter (divided into two equal chunks)
125ml white wine (rec. Pinot Grigio)
50g mixture parmigiano reggiano/pecorino Romano Cheese
1---Bring about two cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. When boiling, remove from heat, add dried porcini mushrooms, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let the mushrooms rehydrate undisturbed for at least one hour. Use a spider strainer to remove the mushrooms and set aside, reserve the porcini liquid.
2---In a large saucepan, add 3 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of the porcini liquid. Place over medium-low heat until the brodo begins to simmer.
3---Place a high-walled sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil becomes fragrant, add the chopped onion. Cook the onion until soft and beginning to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Pour in the rice and, using a silicone spatula, stir the rice around the pan for about a minute. Add one (1) chunk of butter and continue to stir, melting the butter and incorporating with the rice. Once melted, add the wine. Stir the wine, picking up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan, and reduce by about 2/3rds.
4---Add about 3 ladles of the brodo to the rice, turn the heat on the rice down to low. Keep the rest of the brodo simmering. The brodo will be added incrementally to the rice, so it’s important to not reduce the liquid as you’ll need about all 4 cups worth. Continue to stir the rice to make sure no grains stick to the bottom or sides of the pan and burn.
5---The rice will absorb the liquid rather aggressively. Continue to add the brodo a ladle at a time, stirring the rice slowly for a few minutes until absorbed, repeating this process until the rice is al dente or you have used all four cups of brodo (this happens roughly at the same time, but it’s not always exact. Keep a tasting spoon handy to check on your rice, especially as you near the end of the brodo).
6---Chop the reserved porcini mushrooms into small pieces, and add to the saute pan when the rice is al dente and has nearly absorbed all of the liquid in the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir the rice to incorporate the mushrooms.
7---When the liquid has been absorbed, turn off the heat, and add the remaining chunk of butter and cheese. Stir until both the butter and cheese have melted and are incorporated evenly throughout the risotto. Garnish with some lemon and parsley if serving the risotto on its own.