Risotto is the intermediate between rice and a creamy pasta dish. Although risotto is billed as difficult, it’s more easily achieved than it gets credit for so long as you use arborio rice (available at most grocery stores in Boone).
Onions, garlic, and Parmesan cheese melt into rice cooked slowly with broth to make a satisfying rice dish – leave out the mushrooms if you don’t like them. All you have to do to ensure a smooth, creamy texture is toss the rice in the olive oil and aromatics to toast it before adding the liquid. When the rice sounds like tossing pebbles in the pan, it’s soaked up all the oil it’s going to, making it ready to absorb the broth and lend its starch to the sauce.
This risotto is endlessly customizable: start with some sausage and cook the aromatics in the fat, add a can of drained tomatoes after the rice before the broth, stir in cooked shrimp or chicken when the rice is done, or sprinkle with bright, fresh herbs like parsley before serving.
Make this for your date night with your roommate after you’ve turned in all your exams.
Serves two, 45 minutes total
2/3 cup arborio rice
2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable work best)
1 cup frozen peas
8 ounces fresh baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and dried (1 package)
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic
1 and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Ground black pepper
Step one: Getting started
Pull the stems out of the mushrooms and tear the mushroom caps in halves or thirds (they will shrink significantly during cooking). Mince the garlic and dice the onion. In a skillet over medium heat, saute the mushrooms and onions in a tablespoon of the olive oil until the mushrooms have released most of their liquid and browned, stirring occasionally for 7-9 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute a minute longer, then add the rice and remaining oil. Stir the vegetable and rice mixture until the rice has absorbed the oil, gone translucent and sounds like pebbles clicking in the pan.
Step two: Cooking the rice
Salt and pepper the rice to taste, being conservative with salt because the cheese at the end is very salty, then add about a third of the broth. Stir to combine and turn the heat down to medium-low. Stirring occasionally, cook until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, 5-8 minutes. Add another third of the broth, stirring as needed to prevent sticking as the rice absorbs it over 5-8 minutes. Pour in the last third of the broth with the still-frozen peas, testing a grain of rice occasionally for doneness. When the rice is just underdone, 7-9 minutes, stir in the Parmesan cheese and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Sprinkle with herbs or lemon juice, and serve with more grated Parmesan if desired.