When people ask me what I like to cook most (and people ask alllllll the time), my answer is always risotto. I find the stirring very therapeutic. And every time I make it, I think it’s better than the last. It’s all about knowing what your rice needs and when it needs it, which comes more naturally each time. I PROMISE! But below are a few pointers to get you started on the right track.
1. Use hot stock.
As you start to make your risotto, get your stock warm in another pan over medium heat. Hot stock will help keep the temperature from dropping each time you add it to the rice. And the faster your rice absorbs the liquid, the better your risotto texture will be.
2. Just keep stirring.
I know. This isn’t exactly a fun step, but you must persist. Arborio rice (the kind most commonly used in risotto) is extra starchy, which increases it’s chances of burning. Walking away, even if only for a second, can make your rice start to stick (and burn). Like I said, I find the stirring kinda relaxing. If you don’t, I understand. But at lease you can kinda zone out while you’re doing it.
3. Use good cheese.
You’re making risotto which means you’re probably looking forward to a nice meal. Which means you deserve GOOD cheese—the kind Queen Ina would approve. A freshly grated block of Parmesan is going to taste 1,000x better than the pre-grated fake stuff. Trust me.
You should also feel free to experiment. Parm is classic, but asiago or Gruyère would be phenomenal too.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring chicken broth to a simmer. Reduce heat to low.
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon butter, garlic, mushrooms, bay leaf and thyme. Cook until the mushrooms have softened and are golden, about 4 more minutes, then season with salt and pepper. Remove mixture from the pot.
- Melt remaining tablespoon butter in the pot and add the arborio rice, stirring quickly. Cook until the grains are well-coated and smell slightly toasty, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the wine has mostly absorbed.
- With a ladle, add about 1 cup hot broth. Stirring often, cook until the rice has mostly absorbed liquid. Add remaining broth about 1 cup at a time, continuing to allow the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. Stir often and cook until the risotto is al dente and creamy, not mushy. (You might not need all the broth.)
- Add the mushroom mixture back into the rice.
- Stir in Parmesan and peas then garnish with parsley. Serve warm.