After years of watching the Food Network, I began to develop an awe of risotto. It was presented as a difficult dish, something that surely only professional chefs could pull off. After all, how else could they charge so much for it in restaurants? It must have expensive ingredients, and I knew it had many steps. Certainly not something I, a home cook, could pull off.
My confidence was boosted when my culinarily fearless brother Michael made risotto during our annual sibling weekend this year. Not long after that, I produced my first risotto and was moderately impressed myself with the results. Maybe this risotto stuff wasn’t as hard as I had thought. However, the preparation is not toddler-friendly. The process takes my full attention for almost half an hour with constant stirring, so I can only make it on the weekends when Brett can keep an eye on Hannah while I cook.
Tonight on the menu – crimini mushroom risotto. There are lots of risotto recipes out there, and any of them contain the basic steps of the process. This evening, I first sauteed some sliced crimini mushrooms. These are baby portobello mushrooms, and we really enjoy their texture and flavor. I bought them from the bulk mushrooms and saved almost $1 over the pre-packaged ones. After I toasted the rice (with some garlic), I added a half cup of dry white wine before starting the chicken stock additions. Then it was the normal basic process; at the end I added the mushrooms back in along with about half a cup of parmesan and some chopped parsley.
So I started with two objections to trying risotto at home: difficulty of process and cost of ingredients. In reality, the process is not as much difficult as it is time-consuming, though that is really not bad. You just need some good instructions and some patience. When it comes to cost of ingredients, risotto is as expensive as you want it to be. The basic ingredients are arborio rice and chicken stock, everything else can be added based on creativity and budget. My mushroom risotto tonight was actually less expensive than the delicious olive bread from the farmers’ market that you see pictured.
Filling and tasty, and makes us feel elegant. What did you have for dinner tonight?