First Time Risotto?
- sasserwazr Feb 8, 2009 12:27 AM
I'm writing because I have never made risotto. Not yet. But I am making tomorrow. Hopefully by the time I set out to execute a recipe, I will have been versed in what to expect. I'm sure some of you will be gushing with some words of caution and care, and there will be some pretentious chowhounds who will relish telling me what I should know and how ridiculous it is that I haven't reached their conclusions without a discussion board. Regardless, I'm pretty sure that I want to make a wild mushroom risotto as it is what-seems-to-be the standard risotto. But the other issue is that I've never purchased mushrooms more wild than the cremini. So I guess any help on buying dry (if found, fresh) wild mushrooms. That's it... help please.
Risotto is a fun cooking (and eating) experience -- enjoy! Key hints are to crisp and flavor the rice in some seasoned oil before incorporating the broth, using heated good quality stock, and not skimping on the garlic, onion and herbs. If you use dried mushrooms the broth can be supplemented with the liquid you use to hydrate the mushrooms. Butter and grated cheese at the very end for creaminess and piquancy.
And stir often. Perfect tips. Those are mine for first timers, I brown my rice is butter, garlic, definitely!!, heat the stock always (broth works), I like to add some wine too, and cheese and more butter absolutely. I have even added a little cream add the end, also good.
Good tips nosh!
Really, risotto is one of those things that, for some reason, people think is way more difficult than it is.
I think one of the best things to do is watch a video.
This is a Batali one, with mushrooms. He kind of talks a lot, but that's ok, it's a really short video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDRBHe...
Risotto is a wonderful dish which allows you a certain amount of freedom to be creative. My wife and I are empty nesters so there are only 2 of us. I'm the one who makes the risotto. Arborio rice is the only one that I use for this dish. Chicken broth is our liquid of choice. For one cup of rice I use 2 14-oz. cans of chicken broth which is preheated before starting the cooking process. Most times we have some leftover store-roasted chicken from a previous meal.
I start the process with a soffritto...diced onion, celery and bell pepper, sauteed in extra virgin olive oil. Add some minced garlic to the soffritto. When the onion is translucent, I add the rice and stir it well so that the grains are coated with oil. Next, I add a 1/2 cup of either dry vermouth, madeira or marsala wine. Stir well and allow the rice to absorb it. The broth is then added by the ladle full stirring the rice and allowing the broth to be absorbed before adding another ladle full. The process continues until all the broth is used. The shredded pieces of chicken are then added. Finally, because my wife wishes the dish to be 'creamy', butter and grated Parmagiano Regianno are added in amounts that make the risotto creamy. Note that no salt is added because the commercial chicken broth and the cheese contain salt.
My wife, a woman of Italian heritage, will not eat mushrooms because they are funghi. Go figure! I, on the other hand, love mushrooms. As far as mushrooms being part of the dish, wild or domestic will do. I suggest sauteing them separately and adding them near the end of the risotto cooking process.
I apologize if this is more information than you requested.
ChiliDude, IBM (Italian By Marriage)
"Everyone waits for risotto and risotto waits for no one"
Enjoy the pleasure of spending 18-22 minutes preparing the risotto.
Couple of hints:
-Have the stock already at a simmer before you start the risotto
-Saute the onions and add the garlic at the same time as the rice to avoid burning the garlic
-Add the stock only to cover the rice and reduce over and over again
-During the initial liquid, be a little more aggressive with the stirring to release as much starch from the rice since thie outside of the kernals are at their roughest
-When you "pull" the wooden spoon through the rice and no liquid fills the gap (think moses and the ten commandments movie) then it is time to add more liquid.
-Test the doneness after 15 minutes and then at 18 and then every minute thereafter.
-For a mushroom risotto jfood would use vegetable stock and he agrees with others that would use the mushroom juice if using dried mushrooms
-Add the mushrooms when the dish is done
-At the end jfood does not add anything other than a fork
Your first stop for learning to make risotto should be Marcella Hazan whose method will perfectly walk you through the process. It is not difficult. In terms of purchasing mushrooms, dried porcini are found in most speciality shops and make a wonderful, flavorful risotto. You pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms and let them steep until pliable. Then you strain the water that they were in and add it to your risotto. That will give your risotto a very full mushroom flavor. I know that many posters suggested that garlic go in the soffrito and one suggested bell pepper, both of which are not part of Marcella's classical method. Some risotto makers also add cream, which is gilding the lily IMHO. I feel it's best to begin with the classic recipe, and then, if you want to add things like garlic and bell pepper at a later date, you can adjust your recipe to include these things. I might also add that if you are using canned chicken broth, it's best to use a low-salt variety, and even then, dilute it with water. Good luck, and have fun. After all, it's just rice!
Sass, you have gotten some excellent advice on the risotto making process. A couple of tips to add:
- Use chopped shallots instead of onions, I find their flavor both oniony and garlicky at the same time.
- I find best place to purchase dried mushrooms in bulk is Costco or Sam's Club. Use them a lot for risotto, soup, etc.
- I can already see a few Chers grimacing, but Whole Foods offers a terrific variety of fresh mushrooms of all kinds. Yes, they are expensive, but you only need a small handful for flavor. In summer, we have access to farmer's market, but in our area they are May - September/October.
- For flavor, try a little white wine, sherry or marsala, each has different "notes" and will add complexity.
- Make sure you use the mushroom broth as part of your liquid as well, drain through sieve to catch any sand or particles
- I often add 1/4 cu[ half & half or heavy cream at the end instead of butter and good, imported Parmesan, Romano or even Asiago cheese
- make sure you use a wooden spoon to stir, it seems to make a difference!
It really isn't that bad, your first post, 3 tips, warm broth, stir, brown the grains first and season well. You can make it anything you want. It isn't nearly as hard as sometimes what we hear. I was hesitant the first time and it is so easy. I like to make it when I make a dish that is already cooking and don't have to spend a lot of attention to. Kids are great stirrers :)
Enjoy it! You will do great!