Last summer, my husband, Jim, and I got hooked on "Master Chef." As judges Gordon Ramsey, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot taste-tested home cooks' dishes each week, praising their palettes and bemoaning underseasoned offerings, I decided that my own palette needed work.
I decided that I would expand my culinary horizons by introducing new foods into my diet, beginning with mushrooms.
I never liked mushrooms. When I was a kid, a dish that involved cream of mushroom soup invariably meant that my plate would have a neat line of mushroom bits along the edge at the end of the meal. It was a texture thing, mostly. I couldn't get past the rubbery feel of mushrooms. Then there was the idea that I was eating fungi ... yuck!
But I'd long heard that if you try a food 10 times, you'll learn to like it, and those packages of stuffed mushrooms at the grocery store did look tempting. I was determined to give mushrooms a shot and pinned half a dozen promising recipes on Pinterest.
I started with stuffed mushrooms, bringing them as an appetizer to a family meal at my in-laws' house. They went over well with everyone, myself included. Next came roasted portobella caps with spinach and cheese, and baked chicken with a creamy sauce and sauteed mushrooms and onions. Each successive dish had me liking mushrooms more and more.
Then came the risotto.
5 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups flavorful mushrooms (cremini, shitake, or oyster), chopped
2 shallots, minced (or 1/4 cup onion)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
In a pot, warm the broth and keep it on low heat.
In large pot or sauce pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and shallots and saute for 5 to 8 minutes until the mushrooms are tender. Add rice and stir to combine. Toast the rice with the mushrooms for 2 minutes.
Add wine and stir frequently until almost all of the wine is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of warm broth and stir frequently until the broth is absorbed and the risotto becomes thick. Repeat the process, adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time and waiting to add the next 1/2 cup when the the broth absorbs. This process will take about 20 minutes. The rice should be fully cooked and just a bit chewy when finished.
Once the rice is cooked and the risotto is creamy, add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper, if needed. Risotto should be creamy and a bit loose. If it is too thick, add a little more broth until you have reached the desired consistency.
Risotto has a reputation for being tricky - all that stirring, and adding the liquid slowly - but while it's a bit time consuming, I find the process rather meditative. Stir, stir, stir, add liquid, stir, stir, stir ...
I found the recipe for mushroom risotto on Pinterest, my new go-to site for recipes. It was simple and straightforward, but the results were amazing. I count the time I first made this recipe as the moment that I went from tolerating mushrooms to loving mushrooms. In fact, I rarely leave the grocery store these days without fresh mushrooms in my cart.
I didn't need to make any substitutions for this recipe, though learn from my previous mistakes and stay away from red wine in this recipe. I?tried that once and wound up with purple risotto. Tasty, but not very attractive. If you're not a big wine drinker, look for the packs of single serving wine at the grocery store.