Wine, mushrooms, and rice…oh, and I added bacon. You are welcome!
I haven’t made risotto in a really long time. I sometimes fall into that Atkins thinking and really want to just eat tons of protein. That lasts maybe one meal, at most, one day, then I fall off the “No Carb!” bandwagon. Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation, even moderation.” I think she was referring to this mindset. Or maybe it was moderation of butter, or pies, or wine…well, whatever the reason, I find it to be a most excellent motto. One to live by, for sure.
So the other day, I was watching Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa, and she was making a white wine risotto. She was using some crazy expensive ingredients; dried porcini mushrooms, locally sourced pancetta, saffron, what looked to be a very expensive bottle of wine she got from a friend who owns a specialty wine shop, and I think she might have even shaved some truffles on top (that may or not be an exaggeration; I can’t remember). Well, that got me to thinking, “I can make that without spending $50 dollars on my meal.” So here is my cheap version of her decked out classic.
Start by warming a quart of chicken stock. You could make your own, and I sometimes do, but you can also use stock from a box. I like to buy low sodium. Control your salt intake when you can.
Take a large Dutch Oven. This is my prized possession in the kitchen. I love my cast iron pans, but I covet my Le Creust. We got it on sale, I think, because it is a hideous pea green. I have grown found of it so much. Heat it up and add 1 stick of butter. Once it is melted add 1/2 of and onion (Vidalia for me) and 3 pieces of bacon chopped up.
Then add 1 pint of mushrooms. I added baby portabellas, but cute little button mushrooms would work just fine. Whatever is on sale, people! You can buy sliced, or you could save yourself fifty cents or more and just slice them yourselves. No judgment here! Cook down for about 5 minutes. Add about a teaspoon of salt and pepper.
Add 2 cups of Arborio rice. Arborio has the perfect starchiness for Risotto. Stir rice until coated with butter. Add about 1/2 a bottle of dry white wine. My favorites are Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. When cooking, always choose a wine you want to drink. My bottle was Pinot Grigio, and it cost about $10.
Once it cooks a bit, add your warmed chicken stock a little bit of a time. Your risotto needs love. Keep by its side; stir it often; whisper sweet nothings in its ear. “Who is my sweet risotto? You are! You are so pretty! I just love you so much!” Kiss it and give it some nibbles…Taste it here and there to see if it is al dente and seasoned right (add salt and pepper when needed). When it is, add 2/3 grated parmesan cheese and a couple of splashes of heavy cream. Stir until coated and take off the heat.
Wondering if the kids are going to like this…well, R loves mushrooms, and K loves rice. Both my kids love runny eggs. Add a side of sunny side up eggs, and we have a meal! The richness of the yolk adds amazing depth to the risotto. R even asked if we could have this for breakfast. Why, yes, yes we can!