Growing up in a meat and potato family, about the only time I can remember having rice is when we ordered it with North American style Chinese food, or used it to stuff a trout or bell pepper -which is hard to believe, as my mother was a wonderful cook, and rice – well let’s just say is the most versatile food in the world.
With over 40,000 varieties, and available in short, medium and long grain, it can be boiled, steamed or slowly sautéed and stewed. It can be used to salvage wet electronics, clean coffee grinders, vases & bottles and will keep salt dry and separated in humid climates – not surprising it is even thrown at weddings, symbolizing a rain of wealth, prosperity and of course fertility. Although its’ reputation was briefly tarnished, as it was believed to be harmful to birds until recently proven otherwise.
My favorite rice dish is Risotto, which is typically made with an Italian short-grain rice called arborio; a plump grain, high in starch creating the classic creamy and rich Risotto texture. The flavors you can create are infinite and you can just about throw measurements out the window. Honestly, it is easy to make and has only one key ingredient – patience. Our entire family just loves it!
Here is one of our favorites: Mushroom Risotto served with crusty garlic toast and Caesar salad – feeds 5.
Total cooking and prep time: 30 minutes
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 6 cups low salt vegetable stock or stock of choice
- Lots of sliced mushrooms of choice (I like white mushrooms). I say lots, but how about 4 cups?
- 1 medium sized onion of choice (we use cooking onions), diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup or so of white wine (like a pinot grigio) – save some for the Risotto. You can substitute with 1/4 cup of lemon juice if desired
- 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan
- Olive oil and butter
- Salt and pepper
***for vegan, don’t use butter or parmesan: Our vegan daughter loves this dish
Sautee mushrooms in a separate frying pan – season to taste.
Bring stock to a boil and keep hot in a separate saucepan. In another saucepan (stewing pot) coat with 3 TBSP of olive oil at medium heat and saute onions until opaque.
Add rice and garlic and stir in well. You want to toast the rice but not burn or fry – it should look somewhat opaque.
When rice is lightly toasted add white wine and continue stirring. When wine is cooked away and absorbed, ladle in about 1 cup hot stock, – continue stirring.
When stock is absorbed, ladle in more stock.
From this point forward you will repeat this process until rice is soft and creamy – al-dente; process takes 15 to 20 minutes. Sample now and then.
Turn off heat. Stir in 1 TBSP of butter and grated parmesan. Stir in 2/3rds of the mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste. You can put a lid on it and let sit for 2 minutes if desired.
Ladle on plate, lightly top with fresh parmesan and remaining mushrooms. Serve beside salad and crusty garlic bread.
This pairs well with a zesty pinot grigio.
Note: If you run out of stock during the cooking process, hot water can be used.
Experiment with this dish – substitute bacon for mushrooms, add shrimp or your favorite herb or serve alongside your favorite prepared salmon. The options are endless.