For Thanksgiving this year, we decided to make a traditional side dish instead of trying to invent something new that is in line with our dietary restrictions. What we settled on is not a traditional dish for Thanksgiving by any means, but it’s a traditional one nonetheless!
Risotto is a dish first served in Italy in the 16th century, when rice was first introduced from neighboring Mediterranean cuisines, and gained popularity in Milan. Risotto was served in the United States in the 1800s, but didn’t get popular until after WWII (along with pizza). The 1980s are also a time when this dish became really popular and faddish in the US.
1 cup Arborio rice (other short grain rices are okay)
4 cups chicken broth/stock
1 tbsp olive oil
10oz white mushrooms, chopped into 1/2″ chunks
1 shallot, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
There are plenty of other Italian rice varieties that can be used instead of Arborio rice (like Carnaroli or Vialone Nano), but I’ve found Arborio is the easiest to find. Calrose or other short-grain rices may work as well, but may not have the same creamy consistency as their Italian counterparts and may break down into mush before you’re done cooking them.
First things first, pour your chicken broth into a small pan and heat it on low. The broth will incorporate better into the risotto if it’s warm (sorry, I forgot to take a picture!).
Heat up 2 tbsp of the butter in a pan on med heat for a couple minutes, then add the mushrooms. Sauté for a few minutes, until they start to darken and soften, but before they get too small.
^ This is good, right about here. You want some of the liquid to start coming out of them, but they should still be firm. Place them in a bowl and set aside.
Reduce the pan’s heat to med/low. Add the 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan, warm it for a minute, then add the shallot and garlic. Sauté for about one minute, until they start to soften but before they brown.
Add the rice and continue to sauté for about six minutes, stirring often.
As your rice is cooking, this is the best time to get your other ingredients together in one place for easy access. Once you start on the next step you won’t really have a chance to get away from the stove for about 20 minutes!
You want the rice to be a golden brown in color, but not burnt, like in the picture above. Next, add the white wine, stirring constantly until it evaporates.
Add about 1/2 cup of the chicken broth, stirring constantly as it evaporates.
Once it gets about as dry as you see in the picture above, add another 1/2 cup of the broth. Repeat this step with the rest of the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, until all of the broth is evaporated. Should take about 15 minutes altogether.
Taste some of the rice, which should be mostly cooked but somewhat firm at this point. If it still has a little crunch to it, add 1/2 cup of water and evaporate it down, and try it again.
Turn off the heat and stir in the mushrooms, butter, cheese, pepper, and parsley.
Taste it and add the salt as needed (it all depends on how salty your broth was, so definitely taste it before adding more salt).
That’s it! This recipe serves four people, so adjust the amount of ingredients based on the size of your crowd.