Mariel here. I hadn’t made risotto in a dog’s age and since a recent trip to Costco left my fridge stocked with more ‘shrooms than a Phish concert, I figured it was high time to put them to use. My husband happens to be a huge fan of portabellas – and rice…and pasta…and butter – so this dish didn’t stick around too long, but I suspect it’s equally delightful on day two. It’s the perfect cool weather meal and relatively easy to prepare; the only hitch with risotto is that you need to keep stirring, and stirring, and stirring to avoid burning the delicate rice. But all that effort does pay off.
Incidentally, The New York Times’ Diner’s Journal just posted an illuminating piece on the art of risotto-making, namely on creating a more nuanced stock. It’s worth a read if this is your first endeavor. As you’ll see in my ingredients, you need to dilute low-salt broth with water so that the subtle flavor of the arborio rice isn’t all but overwhelmed. But enough chit chat, onwards to the recipe!
Portabella Mushroom Risotto with Fresh Thyme
Makes 4 entree-size servings or 8 appetizer-size portions
Reheating note: If you’re blessed with leftovers, simply refrigerate in a sealed container. It can get a bit sticky overnight, so upon reheating, add a tablespoon or two of chicken broth to de-gloop the risotto.
1 ½ lbs (about 24 oz) of fresh baby bella mushrooms, quartered – $6.00
1 ½ cups arborio rice – $2.99
½ of a large Vidalia onion, chopped finely – $1.29
5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock (if you only have full-salt stock on hand, use 3 cups full-salt stock and 3 cups of water, instead of 1) – stock
1 cup water – stock
1 Tablespoon olive oil – stock
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter – stock
1 teaspoon minced garlic – stock
¼ cup cooking sherry – stock
¼ cup white wine – stock
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped (about ¼ teaspoon dried, but spring for the fresh if you can) – $0.89
1/3 + ¼ cup grated parmesan, divided – $3.00
Salt and pepper – stock
Grand total assuming “Well-Stocked” kitchen: $14.17
Cost per entree serving: $3.54
1. In your largest, heaviest skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over high heat. Add the mushrooms and sprinkle sparingly with salt. Saute the mushrooms until they are tender but still firm, about 4 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a medium bowl (reserving the mushroom juices) and mix in the thyme. Set aside.
2. In a medium sauce pan, simmer the 5 cups of chicken broth and cup of water over low heat.
3. In the large skillet you used for the mushrooms, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until the onion starts to become tender and translucent. Sprinkle very lightly with salt.
4. Add the rice to the skillet with the onions and increase heat to medium-high. Stir continuously until the edges of the rice start to look translucent (about 2 minutes). Add the wine and sherry and stir until absorbed, about a minute.
5. Using a ladle and a spouted glass measuring cup, add 3/4 cup warm chicken broth to the rice and stir until the broth is absorbed (about 2 minutes). Add another 3/4 cup, stir until absorbed. Repeat this once more then add the mushrooms. Before adding the next batch of broth, always make sure the previous batch is absorbed. Repeat this until you’ve used all the broth – it’ll take about 20-25 minutes total and you need to continuously stir so that the risotto doesn’t burn (turn down the heat as necessary). The risotto should become thick and creamy; tender yet firm to the bite. Keep taste-testing to gauge firmness.
6. Stir in a 1/3 cup of parmesan, taste and adjust seasonings, then remove from heat. Portion out servings, sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of parmesan and enjoy!