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Risotto Short Grain Rice Mushroom

Rice is deservedly very popular throughout the world. Jambalaya is eaten in Louisiana, paella in Spain, and delicious pilafs everywhere else. But one rice dish, risotto, is the most revered by serious rice lovers. Perhaps because of its daunting technique, risotto is the most feared by many cooks, while at the same time the most beloved of dishes, due to its decadently creamy texture. Most who try risotto master it and prepare it for special occasions.

Risotto is unique to Italy, nowhere else was this preparation ever done. This consummate rice dish can be made with almost any food one enjoys. Fish, meat, poultry, vegetables and cheese all can be made into a risotto.

Technique and the type of rice used are the most important aspects of a good risotto. It differs from other rice dishes in the use of a short grain rather than long, and a constant addition of small amounts of liquid with constant stirring. Let’s make risotto.

Start with short grain rice. Classically one would use Arborio rice, or vialone nano. But happily, you can use any short grain rice available at your local market.

1. Heat the stock you will be using just under a boil. For 2 cups of rice you will need about 5 cups of liquid.

Select the main ingredients, meat or vegetables. Saute them in a little fat in your saucepan. Depending on your selection, the fat can be chicken fat, butter, olive oil etc. Saute minced onion and perhaps garlic in the fat. Turn up the heat and add the raw rice, stirring to coat each grain.

Add a ladle of the liquid to the rice and stir to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan. When the liquid is incorporated, add another ladleful and repeat. Keep stirring and adding small amounts of hot liquid till it is almost used up. Taste the rice for doneness; it should be slightly firm, not too soft and quite moist without being runny. If you need a little more liquid and the stock is gone, use a little very hot water to finish. The stirring and ladling takes about 20 minutes, but is well worth it for the smooth risotto it makes.

This last step is what surely makes risotto the fabulous dish that it is. Add a tablespoon of butter and a half- cup of grated cheese (usually parmesan, but you can decide otherwise) and stir it into the finished risotto. If you used olive oil, use olive oil instead of butter here.

Here is a nice mushroom risotto, serves 6.

3/4 ounce mixed dried shiitake/chanterelles mushrooms

4-1/2 cups mushroom broth

1 onion, minced

1 cup of short grain rice

1 Tablespoon tahini (if unable to find, substitute creamy peanut butter)

3 green onions, minced

salt and white pepper

1 Tablespoon butter to saut and 1 tablespoon butter to finish.

Combine mushrooms and broth and bring to boil. Let sit a minute, then strain and return broth to a pan and heat. Reserve mushrooms.

2. Saute onion in a little butter. Add the mushrooms and the tahini. Stir well

3. Add a ladle of the broth and stir well, keep stirring till liquid almost gone. Keep adding a ladle at a time, test for doneness, rice should be creamy but not runny.

Stir in the butter and cheese and serve.

Add this risotto technique to your repertoire, there are hundreds of new dishes you can create this way, all guaranteed to ellicit satisfaction from your guests.