As I write, I am flying back from Chicago, having attended a hoity toity conference of really smart people. Me…I’m just over-educated as the banner above says. I came to talk about food and what we’re doing with it these days (Do you know some people are taking pictures of their dinner and posting them on the web? What’s up with that?)
Mushroom Risotto Etc. Etc.
1 medium onion chopped into medium dice
~1 pound shitake mushrooms, stems discarded and sliced fairly thin
A few cloves of garlic
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 cup of white wine
1 quart (give or take) of chicken stock (you made it yourself, right?)
1 tbsp butter, plus a splash of olive oil (raises the smoke point of the butter and adds some flavor)
~ 1/3 of a cup of half and half
1/2 cup or so of grated fresh parmigiano reggiano
Some fresh herbs to finish it (whatever you have)
Whip it, whip it good
Bring your stock to a boil for a minute, then turn it down to a low simmer.
Heat your butter and oil until the butter foam subsides. Add the onion and saute until the onion is translucent, then add the mushrooms. Stir that from time to time. Depending on the pan you're using, the whole thing might produce enough liquid that it starts to stew. Don't panic. Shitakes do not have as much moisture in them as basic white mushrooms so that will subside fairly quickly. You'll know things are working when you hear it start to sizzle again. Get a little color on your onions and shrooms.
Add the rice and stir it to coat the rice with all the juices. Stir it until the rice is becoming translucent (it'll work from the outside edge of the grain inward). Add the wine, stir and then let the rice absorb the wine. When it's close to dry, start adding the broth, about a half cup at a time and letting it absorb. Most recipes will tell you to stir the rice constantly and that's just a bit of an exaggeration. They tell you that because they don't want you to forget about your rice because you're yelling at the Chicago Bears quarterback after he threw yet another interception for the season (guy couldn't catch a break on the morning news shows around here, but apparently he can't throw one either). As long as you are paying attention, stirring faithfully and don't let it go dry, you'll be fine even if you stop stirring now and then.
Somewhere in here you want to season it with salt and pepper, but remember that the cheese will bear some salt as well. Taste from time to time until the rice is the texture you want (Al Dente is what most recipes call for but Al's softer brother Luigi might be more to your liking). Add the half and half a bit at a time until it gets as creamy as you like. Then toss in your herbs and once they're incorporated, add the cheese a small handful at a time until it all comes together to taste. Adjust any seasoning at the end.
This is a great dish on its own. On this particular night, I grilled some halibut (yes, yes, just for the "halibut" if you will) to put on top of all this. If you're adding a whitefish, you probably want to add some flavor to it that will give you just a little contrast to the risotto, maybe paint it with a vinaigrette or something.