Italian food is famous for being a labor of love—a comforting cuisine that’s at its best when prepared especially for you, by someone who holds you dear. There’s perhaps no truer expression of this than risotto, a dish that one doesn’t simply cook, but cradles and caresses until it reveals its tender, supple nature. Some might scoff and say, “Risotto? It’s just rice.” And sure, it is rice. But my friends, what rice it is.
The terms “luxurious” and “creamy'' get tossed around indiscriminately when we talk about food, but those descriptors are exactly what cascade through your mind when eating remarkable risotto, the pride of Lombardy cuisine. When properly prepared, the rice starch dissolves, binding and fusing the kernels together into a silken form that flows like lava from the ladle, to the plate, and finally to your palate. Virtually anything edible can be used as a flavor base for risotto, including cheese, seafood, vegetables, and more. For our recipe, we’re digging into the world of mushrooms. Specifically, white champignon, cream champignon, oyster, and portobello mushrooms found in Paesana’s Grilled Mushroom Mix. Let’s get to it!
Yield: 6 Servings
½ jar Paesana Grilled Mushroom Mix (or more if you really love mushrooms)
Liquid from jar of Paesana Grilled Mushroom Mix
5 cups broth, homemade or store bought (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
Start by bringing the broth to a slow, steady simmer. Position the pot on a stovetop burner close to where you plan on cooking the risotto.
Add 1 tablespoon of butter and all of the vegetable oil into a large sauté pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Allow the butter to melt, then add the chopped onion. Stir and cook until the onion becomes translucent.
Add the rice. Stir quickly and vigorously until the grains are completed coated. Allow to toast momentarily, but keep the rice moving.
Add ½ cup of the simmering broth to the rice and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Wipe the sides and bottom of the pan clean as you stir and continue to cook until all the liquid is gone. Always stirring!
Cooking risotto is all about devoting yourself to paying continuous attention to your rice. If you let it sit unattended for even a moment, you run the risk of it sticking to the pan and losing its silky consistency.
Once that ½ cup of broth has disappeared, add another ½ cup and continue to stir the entire time, maintaining a lively heat and active pace.
After 10 minutes of cooking (and stirring constantly!), add a ¼ jar of Paesana’s Grilled Mushroom Mix, along with some of the liquid from the jar. Continue stirring until the liquid evaporates, then add more mushrooms and liquid, stirring and letting it evaporate. Keep doing this until you’ve added all the mushrooms.
Cook the rice until it’s tender, but firm to the bite. Keep adding broth and letting it evaporate until the risotto reaches the desired consistency. If you run out of broth, you can switch to water.
Some people say that risotto must be eaten piping hot. This is a myth! Allowing the risotto to rest on a plate for a minute or so amplifies the flavor. In fact, some enterprising eaters often spread the risotto from the center of the plate to the rim before eating it in order to allow some of the steam to dissipate.
Turn off the heat. Add a few grindings of black pepper, the rest of the butter (1 tablespoon) and all of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir it thoroughly until the cheese melts, coating and clinging to the rice. Taste for salt.