I can see the look on all of your faces. Why on Earth would a busy-bee college student make risotto? It seems to take so long!
Wrong. Risotto doesn’t really take that long. A basic risotto (with just shallots/onions, wine, and broth) can take around 20 minutes, and I’ve decided to make mine a fuller dish with caramelized mushrooms. That’ll add just another 8 minutes, but I promise — it’s totally worth it.
Destroy all those preconceived notions you have about this delightful Italian meal. Risotto can be inexpensive to create, and it’s actually perfect for hungry college students — you can load risotto with kale, peas, mushrooms, artichokes, butternut squash, and pretty much anything and everything. The dish is as satisfying as the ingredients you care to put in it.
I will post another basic risotto recipe for those who do not like mushrooms, or for those who would like to nail risotto in around 20 minutes. Feel free to change my recipe around to your liking. This is a rich dish, as it should be. You can definitely reduce the butter used while cooking the onions and add some other sort of fat like olive oil if it makes you feel better. I did try to keep things low-fat here(hah), but if you want a super ultra creamy *oh-my-god-what-is-this?!* risotto, go ahead and add maybe 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of heavy cream.. That’s ENTIRELY optional. Still, you must promise me you’ll add the pat of butter towards the end. That makes your risotto ultra silky and smooth.
I don’t expect you to eat risotto every night and dine like a gluttonous one percenter. However, risotto is easily one of the most impressive dishes you can make, and you will feel like one sophisticated, rich-a$$ college student if you make this dish.
Here’s what you need:
Arborio rice (don’t wash it!), white or yellow onion, garlic, mushrooms, white wine (recommended: Chardonnay), broth (chicken or vegetable), buttah, grated Parmesan cheese, and soy sauce (wtf, right? please bear with me. I’ll explain).
Heat a lot of broth/stock in a pot, and cover it with a lid until it starts boiling. Then adjust the heat to low so that it remains lightly simmering.
Slice the ‘shrooms. You can use white button mushrooms or cremini mushrooms. Or, heck, use oyster or chanterelle mushrooms if you want to 1-up me. Just don’t use what’s growing in your yard.
Now chop up some onion very finely. Score the onion just like this.
Then, chop. Chop. Chop. Chop all over it so you have finely chopped onion.
In a large stainless steel pan or pot over medium-high heat, add in some butter, chopped onion, and some mushrooms.
Oh, screw it, this is Mushroom Risotto. I’m adding even more mushrooms.
So, the soy sauce. That’s the secret ingredient to this dish. It will insanely intensify the flavor of the mushrooms, and it will not overpower the risotto at all, I promise.
Add salt. And some freshly ground black pepper. For some zing.
After about 5 minutes, the mushrooms will continue to release their juices, and everything will bubble ridiculously.
Cook for about 2 more minutes, and most of the juices will have evaporated and become concentrated. Here’s where you add finely minced garlic.
The fragrance of these mushrooms. I cannot even express to you. You just have to make it at home. The garlic is cooked after about 30 seconds, so transfer it all to a bowl and set aside.
Back to that pot. Over medium-high heat, add some more butter and chopped onion.
Cook the onions for about 2 minutes, and then dump in the Arborio rice.
Stir the rice around so that it sorta.. snaps, crackles, and pops. Well, not quite.
What we’re looking for is for the rice grains to become ever so slightly toasted, and they are transparent on the outer edge. That’ll take about 3 minutes in the pan, so move it around constantly with your spatula/wooden spoon.
Now, some vino. Add some white wine.
Stir it all around… The fragrance. holy omg, I wish you could smell this.
After about 1-2 minutes, the wine will totally evaporate. Here’s where the fun starts.
That hot broth you set aside at the beginning. Add a lot of it, and stir it all around. (check recipe below for the exact amounts).
When I say stir, I don’t need you to stand there and stir constantly. You can stir it every 2-3 minutes. It’s really not that much of a hassle. If you can wait around for water to boil each time you make spaghetti, you can stir some risotto around. Trust me.
After about 5 minutes, you can start to see the starch in the rice being released to thicken the dish. Yummy.
When you’re out of broth (after about 10 minutes), you’ll know immediately. Run your spatula across the pan, and you can see there is no more liquid. Add more hot broth!
The pot of broth should be on the stovetop next to you so that the transferring process is simple. Do not — I repeat — do not use cold or room temperature broth/stock. It’ll make the rice “seize” up and it’ll take you a million years to make this dish. Make sure the broth is HOT!
Now, as before, stir that all around. It looks nice and thick. Just how I like it.
After you’ve given the rice a few more minutes to absorb that broth, dump in your cooked mushroom mixture. MHM.
Stir. It. All. Around.
Are we almost done? Almost. Check out the rice. It looks pretty thick and starchy. Taste your rice. Is it hard and uncooked? If your rice tastes really uncooked, repeat the steps above: add more broth, and continue to stir and cook the rice(for a few more minutes) until it is done. Does your rice taste al dente — meaning it has a very, very slight chew to the center? If so, then that is perfect.
Add some Parmesan cheese and some more butter. I never said I was your nutritionist. Add butter if you want the creamiest and silkiest damn risotto ever.
This is the perfect consistency. Not soupy, but with enough creamy liquid to coat each grain well. Now taste it. How’s it taste? What’s it need?
I say more pepper, please.
Then toss in some chopped fresh parsley. And…..
Total time: 33 minutes
Prep: 3 min
Cook: 30 min
Yield: about 4 servings
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth (substitutes: vegetable broth)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced (about 12 mushrooms)
1 cup chopped onions, divided (1 small onion)
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
¾ cup white wine (recommended: Chardonnay)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Heat broth in a small saucepan over high heat until it is boiling. Turn heat to low and keep pan over low heat so that broth remains warm and lightly simmering.
In a large stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter, sliced mushrooms, ¾ cups chopped onions, soy sauce, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook ingredients, stirring occasionally, until moisture released by mushrooms has evaporated and mushrooms are browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in minced garlic and allow mushrooms and onions to cook for 30 seconds longer. Then transfer ingredients into a bowl and set aside.
In the same pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter and the remaining ¼ cup chopped onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 2 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains’ edges are transparent and grains are very slightly toasted, about 2-3 minutes. Add wine to rice, stirring frequently, until rice absorbs all of wine, about 1 minute. Then add 2 cups hot chicken broth and cook, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until rice absorbs all of liquid, about 9 to 11 minutes total.
After broth is absorbed, add additional 1 ½ cups broth and continue to stir occasionally for 2 minutes. Then stir in cooked mushrooms (and any accumulated juices), and continue to stir until rice is cooked, about 4 to 6 minutes. If rice is not cooked by this point, add additional broth(starting with ½ cup), and continue to stir until cooked through. Repeat with additional broth(another ½ cup or so) , if necessary. Risotto may not need all of broth. Risotto is cooked when rice grains remain slightly firm at center. The consistency should be creamy and thick, not loose and runny.
Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and Parmesan cheese until combined. If necessary, adjust seasoning with additional salt or pepper to taste, starting with 1/4 teaspoon each. Finish by stirring in chopped parsley. Serve immediately.