Cooking can be therapeutic and this dish is a great one for a cold fall or winter day when you have a lot on your mind. Just grab some wine and a wooden spoon and stir for 45 minutes or so and you will have a rich, comforting meal to warm you up. It’s also a very impressive dish to serve at a dinner party, if you have the time and energy to make it for guests. Risottos can be intimidating to prepare but as long you as you follow the steps in order, you will be fine. I found them to be much easier than I expected originally and that’s from a girl whose cooking nemesis is, and always will be, rice.
Allergy info: This recipe is gluten free. I do use Sheep’s milk cheese but it is just as good without it, so for a truly dairy free dish omit the Pecorino Romano. For a vegan version, omit pancetta & pecorino and use mushroom broth instead of chicken. Also, this dish can be a bit pricy so I have put less expensive substitutes in parentheses by ingredients that can be changed. This meal will still be delicious!
This picture has a few extra ingredients in it since the last time I made this was for Christmas dinner with my family. Anyone who gives me a Le Creuset pot for Christmas has earned themselves a homemade risotto! To make risotto you will need:
1/2 pound of baby portobello mushrooms, stems removed, sliced (don’t use white button!)
4 cups of organic chicken stock, I use low sodium and stock really is better than broth
2 cups of water
6 tbsp vegan butter (I use Earth Balance sticks)
2 oz diced pancetta (can substitute bacon for a more economical meal)
1/2 cup chopped shallots (can substitute 1/2 cup chopped yellow onions and 2 minced garlic cloves)
1 1/2 cups arborio rice (no substitutes, use arborio)
1/2 cup dry white wine (plus a glass to sip while you stir!)
1/2 tsp saffron threads (can omit if you are on a tight budget)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and water and bring to a simmer.
In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and sauté the pancetta and shallots (or bacon & onion & garlic) over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stir occasionally.
Add the mushrooms and sauté another 5 minutes, stir occasionally.
Add the rice and stir to coat all of the grains of rice with butter. Add the wine and cook 2 minutes.
Now the fun part, you are going to be stirring for awhile but it’s fun to watch it come together and even better if you have some company in the kitchen. Add 2 ladles of chicken stock mixture to the rice and the saffron, salt, and pepper. Stir and simmer over LOW heat until the stock is absorbed, about 5-10 minutes.
Once it is absorbed, add 2 more ladles of stock and stir every minute or so. Cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then repeat this step until all of the stock has been incorporated. This should take about 25-30 minutes total. When you are finished the risotto will be thick and creamy and won’t seem dry.
Take the risotto off the heat and stir in about 1/2 cup of pecorino (if you are using cheese).
Serve immediately with pecorino as a garnish. Enjoy!
I have a simple, delicious recipe for any risotto leftovers that I will post soon as well.