When I first started working at an Italian restaurant, the only thing I knew about risotto was that it tasted delicious, but seemed impossible to make. The creamy texture, the amazing flavors... this stuff has got to take hours. Fortunately, a great chef taught me otherwise, and because of him I can bring this recipe to you!
You will need:
- 1 head of garlic (yep, one head, you read that right!)
- olive oil
- 2 (14.5 oz) cans of chicken broth (you can use veggie broth if your not a carnivore)
- 3 cans water
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 8 oz sliced mushrooms (we LOVE mushrooms, so we almost double this! Baby portabellas are especially yummy!)
- salt and pepper
- 2 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Here's what you need to do:
1. Preheat your oven (or toaster oven) to 350 degrees F. Slice the top off of a head of garlic, place the garlic on aluminum foil, and drizzle with about a teaspoon of olive oil. Wrap tightly in the foil, then place in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan, add the two cans of broth, plus three cans of water. Bring to a simmer and leave it, covered.
3. In another large pot, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute about two minutes, until translucent. Add the sliced mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste, and saute for another five minutes, until mushrooms soften. Now add your Arborio rice, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes to toast.
4. By now your broth should be simmering. Add about one third of your broth to the rice, and stir to incorporate. Reduce heat as needed- you want the rice to be simmering, but not anywhere near a rapid boil. Stir more than occasionally, but not constantly, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Remember, stirring is what releases the gluten in this rice so that it becomes rich and creamy, so the more you stir, the creamier your risotto will be! Repeat this step with the remaining two thirds of broth, adding one third at a time and stirring until absorbed.
5. Sometime around this point, your garlic will be done and you can carefully pull it from the oven. Unwrap to allow it to cool and be prepared for your kitchen to smell delicious! Once your risotto has absorbed the last of the broth, turn off the heat. Then add your 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, and then squeeze all of the garlic out of the head right into the pot. If it has been cooking long enough, it should come out very easily!
6. Once again, stir to incorporate the cheese, garlic and butter. Then cover (remember to turn of the heat) and let rest for about two minutes.
7. Dish out, sprinkle with extra cheese if desired, and eat! I'll admit, this isn't the prettiest dish, but it is SO yummy!
AND, there's a BONUS! This recipe, plus the fact that I don't have a microwave and have to be creative, leads to a delicious leftover bonus recipe!
So, if you're feeling creative the day (or two days) after making this dish and want to transform it into something different, here's all you need to do:
1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. I'm not promising that this bonus recipe is very healthy! I use a cast iron skillet for this because I really love the flavor you can get out of it.
2. While the pan heats, beat an egg or two into a shallow dish. Add Italian breadcrumbs, extra Parmesan cheese, and a bit of black pepper to another dish. Form your leftover risotto into small hockey puck shapes, dip each one in the egg wash, and then dredge in the bread crumb mixture. And I'm sure you know what's next- into the frying pan they go!
Note: this pan had just been used to cook hamburger meat... so as gross at it looks it added lots of flavor :)
3. Fry each side until they are golden brown and the insides are hot. You can set these on paper towel after cooking to drain some of the oil, but I've never found them to be especially greasy (as long as you don't put too much oil in the pan to start).
4. Serve! I have had these for dinner by themselves, but I have also served them with chicken, steak, or whatever else I have on hand. Super simple, super fast, and guilt-free since the leftovers aren't going in the trash.