A hug in a bowl. This is what best describes a good risotto. It may just be the most perfect lazy, chilly afternoon meal of all time.
All you need is a bowl, ONE piece of cutlery (either a fork or a spoon, I’ll give you some say in the matter), a couch and a nice cozy blanket. Minimal chewing required.
For some unfathomable reason, risottos have this terribly false reputation of being extremely difficult to master. I really don’t understand where that came from because, honestly, if you can hold a wooden spoon and stir every minute or so for 20 minutes, then congratulations; you can make a risotto!
What’s great about risottos is that they can be either a very economic or extravagant dish, depending on what you choose to add to them. Personally, I have tried many risottos, and my favourite continues to be the humble mushroom risotto. There is something terribly comforting, I find, in the mellow earthiness of mushrooms, combined with some classic parings such as garlic and parsley. It hits the nail on the head when I don’t feel like eating meat, without ever feeling like a compromise, which I sometimes find vegetarian recipes do.
The steps are pretty straightforward. I wanted to take a few shots of the cooking process to make things easier for you to visualize, but I do apologize for the horrendous kitchen lighting. I don’t even have a window in there.
First, you cook the mushrooms.
Once they are nice and browned, you take them out and set them aside. Now you cook your onion and garlic.
Next, you add the rice and toast for a minute or so, then return the mushrooms into your pot (juices and all).
Traditionally, the following step would be to deglaze the pot with some wine before you begin to add your stock. I do not use alcohol in my cooking, but if you do, by all means go for it. I found that using a small amount of white grape vinegar does the trick well too…but in any case, it is not necessary. You can just move on to the stock straight away.
So now, all you do for the following 20 minutes is add hot stock, a couple of ladlefuls at a time, and stir until it is all absorbed before adding more. You will be amazed at how creamy the risotto gets as u proceed, all from just the natural starch in the rice.
..Or maybe it’s magic. Your call.
At about 20 minutes, you taste. The rice should be cooked but slightly al-dente and keeping its shape well. Once you are happy with the doneness of the rice, you add the finishing touches (butter, parsley, parmesan, adjust seasoning) and you’re done!
Look at that.
No really, LOOK.
the perfect cozy one-bowl dinner for a chilly evening. comfort food at its best.
Author: Noha Serageldin
Recipe type: Main
- • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- • 400g fresh mushrooms, sliced (I use a mixture of white button mushrooms and swiss brown)
- • 1-1.5 liters vegetable stock (you may also use chicken stock)
- • 1 medium onion, finely diced
- • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- • 1 cup (240g) Arborio rice
- • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar (also known as white grape vinegar, optional) OR ¼ cup of verjuice (also optional)
- • 2 tbsp butter
- • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
- • ½ a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
- • Salt & pepper to taste
- Heat a large, slightly shallow pot (I like to use my enameled cast iron dutch oven here, but any pot will do) over medium-high heat. Add 2-3 tbsp olive oil. Add mushrooms and cook until nicely browned. This may take up to 10min.
- Meanwhile, place your stock in another saucepan on the stove on low-medium heat to warm up. You want it to be simmering gently through the whole process, so that it is hot when you add it to your risotto and doesn’t stop the cooking process. Keep an eye on it.
- Once browned, remove mushrooms and set aside on a plate. Turn the heat down to medium and add another tablespoon of oil to the pot. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the rice (do not wash the rice!) and stir for a minute or two to coat all the grains with the juices and toast slightly.
- If using the vinegar/verjuice, add it now. It will sizzle violently, which is a good thing. This means it is scraping off all the lovely bits off the bottom of the pot. Give it a quick stir for about 30 seconds, then return your mushrooms to the pot and add your first 2 ladlefuls of stock. Stir, making sure nothing is stuck to the base of the pot.
- Continue to add stock a ladleful or two at a time, stirring frequently between each addition. Always wait until the stock is almost entirely absorbed before adding the next ladleful. After about 20 minutes, have a taste. The rice should be cooked and creamy but slightly al-dente and not falling apart. If it is still too tough, give it a few more minutes and some more stock.
- Once cooked, add the cheese and butter, then turn off the heat and stir through the parsley. Serve immediately, with plenty of extra cheese!