Risotto is a magical thing. The Italian dish is made up of some simple building blocks: rice, broth, cheese. Some butter, too, to ensure a creamy finish. But the truth is, it's not about all that dairy. The magic of risotto comes from slowly and attentively building flavor and broth into short-grain rice.
I made this for a vegan in my family recently, stopping the process before I added the cheese, and even I was surprised by how creamy and complete the dish still tasted.
The trick is to cook a particular type of rice, arborio, by adding a cup or so of broth at a time until the rice is cooked. That arborio is pretty crucial; it's the reason this recipe cooks the way it does. It's available in most grocery stores, so buy a bag and get to work on this dish.
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, as needed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium white onion, finely diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup mushrooms (small portobellos work nice), finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc (or you can use more chicken stock)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Keep it simmering throughout the cooking process.
In a large nonstick skillet (you can also use a medium saucepan), heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, season with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes until onions are sweating and beginning to soften. Add mushrooms and let cook stirring, until mushrooms begin to brown, about 5 more minutes. Add garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add rice and stir until grains begin to crackle. Add wine and cook, stirring, until wine is no longer visible. Stir in enough simmering stock to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly. Cook, stirring often and vigorously, until stock is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of stock and continue cooking, not too fast and not too slowly, stirring often and adding more stock when rice is almost dry, for 15 minutes.
Stir in butter, herbs and Parmesan. Remove from heat. Season with black pepper and serve immediately.
Source: Adapted from the New York Times