Okay. Risotto isn’t necessarily the most easy-to-photograph food, but let’s talk here for a minute. Risotto. Is. Delicious.
Are you hearing me? Delicious. I’m the first one to admit that I overuse that word, but I am 110% behind every single utterance of those three syllables. I like good eats, people. That’s the deal.
So, back to the topic at hand: lots of people are afraid of risotto. Not in the lock-your-doors-at-night kind of way, but more in a hell-no-I’m-not-making-that-myself-I-know-I’ll-screw-it-up-Hey-do-you-feel-like-going-out-for-Italian? kind of way.
You heard it here first, friends: risotto is NOT SCARY AT ALL. What’s scary is how AWESOME it is and how excited you’ll be when you’re eating it. Am I right? Hmmm? Up top.
It’s actually almost easy – it just requires some patience. And some stirring. With that behind us, and your fears of rice and cheese (really, it just sounds ridiculous when you put it like that) firmly pushed aside, let’s get down to business.
This recipe is sort of a twist on classic risotto – I shook things up with shallots and leeks instead of your basic white onions, and threw some gruyere in to keep the parmesan company. Because when parm gets lonely, that is a sad day. And this risotto is so colorful! (Relatively speaking, of course.)
I also used vegetable broth because my man is a veg-head, but chicken broth is unbelievably delicious and my go-to when I make risotto in general. If you do use veggie broth, you may need to compensate a little with some extra salt.
Mushroom-Leek Risotto With Parmesan, Shallots and Gruyere (all together now: mmmm!!!)
- Olive oil (just a bit)
- Garlic (we’re cooking Italian here, so the more the better)
- Shallots (like 3-ish)
- Leeks (one big stalky thing…you know what I’m talking about)
- Arborio rice (I don’t do an exact calculation – I would go for around 2 cups dry)
- Dry white wine (Giada says don’t cook with wine you wouldn’t drink, and Giada is my girl. Listen to Giada.)
- Mushrooms (as many as you want!)
- Vegetable broth (around 6 cups)
- Parmesan cheese (enough to grate a large handful)
- Gruyere cheese (same deal as the parm)
- Butter (around 2 tablespoons)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
It’s time to be the mayor of chop city, people. Go to work with a sharp knife and get the garlic, shallots, leeks and mushrooms pretty dang small (you can just slice the mushrooms, and the shallots and leeks can just be a rough dice). Pour the broth into a large boiling pot, and leave it on low heat on a separate burner.
Shallots! So much prettier than regular onions.
Moment of silence for the giant pile of diced garlic.
Throw the garlic on a fancy silver pan of warmed olive oil (medium heat is fine for now, and will be for the duration, unless you get too liquidy), wait until it smells so good that you want to stop cooking and just eat the garlic alone, and then throw the shallots in to protect it from your monstrous craving.
Salivary glands in full force. Somebody stop me!
Let the shallots and the garlic frolic and play. Neighbors may start knocking to see what that smell is. Invite them in! Italians are supposed to share.
Throw in those leeks! We chopped up a lot. I have no regrets. But if you don’t end up with this many, it’s okay. Doesn’t it look pretty? Now, salt and pepper. Do it.
Now, throw in that dry arborio. Stir it around for two or three minutes, and let it make a fashionably late guest entrance to the color and flavor party that you are hosting in your fancy silver pan. Just look at that pan.
And now comes the fun part. Wine! You want to use around a cup or so. Pour it on in, and who needs a measuring cup? It all just evaporates, anyway. (Cough) Now, pour yourself a glass. You deserve it!
You can use any dry white you want. I chose the Infamous Goose, because, what IS that?!
It was also highly drinkable. In case you were wondering.
Stir the wine in and let it get its de-glaze on. You’re ready to start adding broth when the spoon leaves a trail in its wake, like-a so.
Now, here comes the patience part. You’re going to start adding broth, about 3/4 cup at a time, into the mix. Stir it in, let it hang out, stir it a little more. Drink your wine. You’re cooking, after all.
In the meantime, throw those mushrooms on medium-high heat with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir ’em around. Get ’em nice and coated. Let them hang until you taste one and just want to DIE because they are so delicious, then take them off the heat and put them to the side.
On this particular night, we made a side dish of bok choy with ginger, garlic, and lime. While you’re gradually adding broth to your risotto, and being ever so patient and mindful, here is a photo shoot of the side dish:
The combination of micro-planed ginger and chopped garlic is like an international flavor festival. In this pan.
I know, I know, I need to get a life. But I really thought this bok choy stump looked like a flower!
This side dish was straight-up incredible. I can’t recommend it enough. (Disclaimer: It was not, I should add, the perfect compliment to the risotto. Parmesan and ginger don’t really do each other any flavors. I mean, favors. But they were both totally awesome.)
Okay, back to the risotto! If you’ve been slowly adding liquid and the arborio is starting to look really fat and delicious, you’re probably in a good place (definitely taste the rice occasionally to see how it’s doing texture-wise). This usually takes around 20-25 minutes, depending on the heat. And whether or not you live in Colorado (this took damn near FOREVER at altitude).
Take your two, oh-so-fluffy piles of cheese, and throw them in. Also, throw in the mushrooms, and the butter. Stir! Taste!
Once you’ve added all of those together, the absolute best and most exciting moment is here: time to eat!!!!!
I picked up these gorgeous bowls at Denver’s Grace Gallery a few weeks ago, and I absolutely love them. It’s like the food WANTS to be in the bowls.
This should be your next Sunday night dinner – it really is great, and it’s not too difficult but makes you look brilliant. Also, leftovers: score. Buon appetito!