Perhaps it's the onset of Fall I can feel and see in everything around me. The light has changed somehow, as it always does this time of year, and temps have cooled ever so slightly, letting me know that my favorite season is just around the corner! And with my favorite season come cooler nights and heartier dishes, like the mushroom risotto I made the other night.
Now, I've eaten risotto before, and I've helped my mom make risotto before, and I've watched people get yelled at by Gordon Ramsey for making bad risotto before, but I've never made it for myself. It was time.
I found a recipe from Cooking Light that sounded just perfect (well... almost) and I set to work.
I was advised that when making risotto, it is best to have everything prepped and ready to go before you start, because once you get going, you'll be busy stirring and won't have time to chop mushrooms and shallots or strip sprigs of thyme of their leaves... so if you can prep the night before it will make your life a lot easier.
The original recipe called for dried porcini mushrooms, and I hadn't the foggiest idea where to find those, plus I know that I like creminis, so that's what I used. The original also called for mascarpone cheese, which I substituted for the cream cheese I had on hand. (Besides, 89¢ beats $5.99 any day of the week in my [pocket]book.)
adapted from Cooking Light
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 to 2 c. diced crimini (baby portabello) mushrooms
1 1/2 c. water
1-2 c. beef (or chicken) broth
1 c. arborio rice
3/4 c. chopped shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. white wine (or adequate substitute if, like me, you don't keep alcohol on hand)
1/4 c. grated parmesan
1 tsp. dried thyme (Or 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme)
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper (or to taste)
1/4 c. mascarpone or cream cheese
Heat a large pan over medium heat with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. In a separate small pot, combine borth and water and warm over low heat. (Just ignore this until later, but keep it warm.) Add mushrooms to large pan and olive oil, and saute about 2 minutes or so until slightly reduced in size and browned. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside. If needed, add a little more oil or cooking spray to the pan, then add rice, shallots and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes until shallot is cooked through and translucent. Rice should also be tranlucent and a smell a little toasty. Add wine (I used white grape juice with a little splash of white wine vinegar) and cook until liquid is mostly absorbed, about 2 minutes. Dip a ladle into the broth and water mixture you warmed up previously, and add about 1 c. liquid to the pan with the rice and cook until liquid is mostly absorbed again, stirring constantly. Continue to add liquid 1/2 c. at a time, waiting until each addition of liquid is absorbed before adding more. Rice should now be creamy and tender. If it is not, continue to add liquid as before until it is. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt, pepper, and parmesan. Stir gently until cheese melts. Stir in cream cheese, or top each portion with a dollop, and garnish with fresh thyme if desired.