Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe
For some reason, I feel like people think of risotto as being this difficult dish that they’d never attempt at home—and honestly, I kind of get it. The recipe that I based this one on is pretty damn complicated and involves dirtying way too many dishes (sorry Ina, I love you, but ain’t nobody got time for steeping dried mushrooms on a weeknight). This version does take about 45 minutes from start to finish, but it’s truly so damn easy and shockingly delicious with an amazing depth of mushroom flavor, even after cutting out a bunch of steps from Ina’s version.
It’s gluten-free, vegetarian if you use veggie broth, and can even easily be vegan. And, although I’ve dubbed it “Weeknight Risotto,” this would be a perfect feed-a-crowd dish for a dinner party if your guests have varying diet needs/preferences. So, pour yourself a glass of wine and get stirring, peeps—you’ll get the hang of this risotto thing in no time. 🙂
One chopped small onion (or half of a medium or large onion, or a few chopped shallots)
2-3 minced garlic cloves
Three packages of pre-sliced mushrooms; white, baby bella, wild, or a mix
Salt and pepper
Dried herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage, or a mix like Herbs de Provence) or fresh herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, and/or sage), tied into a little bouquet with kitchen string (a “bouquet garni,” in French-speak)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
To finish (all optional): grated Parmesan cheese, extra butter, milk or cream or crème fraîche, chopped herbs
Sauté a chopped onion in olive oil and butter over medium heat until soft. Alternatively, you can sauté 2-3 chopped shallots.
Add a few minced cloves of garlic (or a tablespoon of jarred minced garlic if you’re un-classy like me). Sauté for about a minute.
Add three packages of mushrooms, sliced. Any kind that you prefer. I did a mixed of sliced Baby Bella mushrooms and sliced white mushrooms from Trader Joe’s. Add salt and pepper, and either a tablespoon of dried herbs, or toss your bouquet garni into the pot. Increase heat to medium high and sauté mushrooms until they’re semi-soft and a little golden.
Add the rice to the pan and sauté for a couple of minutes until it’s all incorporated. Lower the heat to medium, add the wine, and stir until it’s absorbed. Now here is where I really bastardize this situation. Open up A BOX OF STOCK (sorry, Ina) and add a nice squirt right from the box to the pan. Almost every risotto recipe I’ve read says that you have to heat the stock in a separate pan so that it’s warm when you add it to the risotto, but I was extra-lazy the last time I made this and added room-temp boxed stock right into the risotto, and it worked perfectly. Easy-peasy—and one less dish to clean! YES!
Stir until the stock is mostly absorbed and the pan getting is a little dry, then add another squirt of stock and stir—and simply continue this method until you’ve used up the box of stock. I didn’t measure, but I’d say that 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of stock at a time is a good amount. All in all, you should be adding stock and stirring for about 30ish minutes in total. Drink some wine and enjoy; it’s kind of meditative. And it’s honestly easy and pretty forgiving. (Alternately, get your non-cook husband to stir while you put your toddler down, which is what I had to do, haha.) The only requirement here is that you gradually add your stock, and stir pretty continuously. That’s what encourages the rice to release its starch as it cooks, which makes the finished dish nice and creamy, even if you’re keeping it dairy-free.
Once the risotto is pretty much done (give it a taste to make sure it’s done; the rice should be al dente), you can finish with about 1/4 to a third of a cup of milk, cream, crème fraîche, etc. if you like to add extra creaminess or richness—but it’s totally not necessary if you’d like to keep the dish vegan. You can top with a bit of Parmesan cheese, or some cracked salt and pepper and a bit of chopped fresh herbs—just make sure you remove your bouquet garni (if you used one) before serving! So simple, so delicious, and so comforting on a cold night. Let me know if you give this risotto a try!