Risotto is one of those dishes with layers of flavor and a creaminess that is unforgettable. I would even be willing to nominate it as the next classic comfort food.
Now that I’ve conveyed my love of risotto, let me be honest with you. It is a time-consuming dish to prepare! Especially for those of us who are challenged in the skill of patience. Adding a small amount of broth and then letting the risotto absorb the liquid before adding more will have you standing at the stove for 30 minutes or so. Add broth, stir and stir some more. Add broth, stir and stir some more. But in the end, the result is so worth your time investment.
While risotto may be time-consuming, it uses simple ingredients to create a delicious dish. Risotto is made using arborio rice which is a small grain that puffs up as it absorbs the liquid. Other than the broth and arborio rice, you need a bit of butter and olive oil to create a delicious, creamy base. To that base, you can add a variety of ingredients to create your own masterpiece.
This time around, I decided to make mushroom risotto as a test run for my upcoming Easter dinner. I visited a global market in St. Louis last week and found some great varieties of mushrooms. These were my inspiration for the risotto.
Of course, I bought these mushrooms out of pure curiosity. I have no prior experience with them. But that’s the beauty of it — there is always research to be done. And I knew they would bring multiple layers of flavor to the risotto.
First we have the Seafood Mushroom (also know as Enoki in Japan or Futu in India) — a long, thin white mushroom used in East Asian cooking. It is traditionally used in soups, but can also be used for salads and other dishes. The mushroom naturally grows on the stumps of the Chinese Hackberry tree which explains the unique root system.
And then we have these beautiful Brown Beech Mushrooms (also known as Buna Shimeji) — is an edible mushroom native to East Asia. In nature, shimeji are mushrooms that grow on wood. Most often the mushroom is found on beech trees, hence the common name. I mean look at these things. They are gorgeous!
It is very rare that I don’t alter a recipe in some way when I’m cooking. In this instance, I substituted minced garlic and dried, minced onions because that is what I had available and I’m not a fan of emergency trips to the grocery store if I can help it. I did go ahead and sauté those in olive oil and butter but watched them carefully to prevent burning.
It’s payoff time! All that work and dedication towards this comforting dish will be rewarded in that first bite. Enjoy!