Risotto. I was just introduced to this Italian delight about a year ago. After seeing people make it incorrectly time after time on cooking competition shows (you know, the one where Gordon Ramsay usually yells…a lot?) I decided I needed to try this fancy meal. I have since fallen in love with it and have decided that it is terribly romantic. It is comforting, delicious, and takes the time and effort that only love can give.
If you have never had it before, risotto is essentially creamy rice and can take on any flavor palette you choose. My favorites that I have made so far are sweet potato risotto and this herb risotto. Risotto – just like love – takes commitment because once you start, it needs constant care.
All the work is worth it, though, because in the end you have a beautiful relationship – uhhh…risotto – and you won’t be disappointed. I’m not sure what all Gordon Ramsay’s students did so wrong!
Herb Risotto with Roasted Portobello Mushroom Recipe serves 2
4C organic vegetable stock
3/4C Arborio rice
3/4C diced fresh herbs I used parsley, rosemary, and basil
1/2C white cooking wine or any dry white wine
1/2C grated Parmesan cheese
2 Portobello mushroom caps
1/2 medium white or sweet onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2T olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste
I knew I wanted to make this when I happened across these HUGE Portobellos at the market. Hello! They wanted to be a main entree.
First, heat up the stock to a simmer in one pot, and 1T olive oil on medium heat in a large pan with sufficient sides. Also, preheat the oven to 400.
Wipe the mushroom caps with a damp cloth to clean them, then oil the smooth tops with 1T olive oil. Top them with a few dashes of salt and pepper. Note: They will soak up the oil so don’t freak out and keep adding more oil. Just enough to touch the whole smooth top of the mushroom is sufficient.
The olive oil should be ready by now, so toss the diced onion into the pan. Stir occasionally for about 3 minutes. We don’t want the onion to brown, just soften.
Toast the rice like this (while stirring) for about 3 more minutes. Then, stir in the wine. I use cooking wine because it is very salty so I don’t have to add any additional salt to the rice. This will evaporate quickly (cooking off the alcohol and leaving the flavor.) Once the wine is absorbed/evaporated, ladle in 1-2 ladles full of warm stock, stirring the rice continuously to keep it from sticking to any part of the pan.
This is when you will know to add the next ladle full of stock. This process continues a few more times until you are almost out of the stock. In the middle of all this, the mushrooms will have had 10 minutes in the 400 oven smooth side down. Flip them over to be smooth side up and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
Once you have just a bit of stock left, add in the Parmesan and chopped herbs. Keep stirring! Your arm can handle a bit of a work out!
Once the cheese melts, examine the texture of the risotto. Some people like it more runny, others a bit more firm. Since I wanted to shape mine like a heart I wanted it just firm enough to hold shape but not so firm that it was pasty and dry in the mouth. I added the last bit of stock and watched carefully as I stirred for the texture I wanted as the last bit of stock cooked in.
I let 50-70% of the above pictured liquid cook in before serving. When the mushrooms are done, they will have slightly shrunk in size. They will be moist and tender. Beware the black parts will rub off on your plate. For some this may be no big deal, but for OCD chef over here, I wiped up every bit that escaped onto my plate and risotto.
Slice the mushrooms and serve immediately while everything is hot. Sprinkle extra parmesan or herbs for garnish. Smooth risotto contrasts well with a peppery salad or crunchy green vegetable side like haricot verts.
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day with those you love! If you need some romantic table setting ideas, check out my post about that here.