The first time I made risotto, I was with my mum in our home kitchen back in Ottawa. It was back in 2003, and my mum, who had been intimidated by risotto until this point, suggested that we attempt to make it together. I was too young to know risotto’s reputation for tripping up new cooks, so I was excited by the challenge of a new dish. Turns out, risotto is an incredibly simple and rewarding dish to make. You can customize ingredients, flavours, garnishes, and so much more to make it a signature family dish.
It can be yellow, purple, green, even black in color to coordinate it with a holiday or event. My favourite part has always been creating something simple, sexy and almost magical with the people I love. Since then I have learned some fun facts about this particular version of risotto. You may or may not know that mushrooms are an aphrodisiac. Hard to believe that those little fungi could stimulate passion and lust, but hey, never judge a book by its cover! Like anything truly sexy, we’ve kept everything simple, supple and of course, irresistibly decadent.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small Spanish onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 ¼ cup Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
4 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
1 cup finely chopped crimini mushrooms
½ cup freshly grated parmesan and extra for garnish
salt and pepper
1. Prep all of your ingredients before starting. In a medium pot bring the stock to a simmer.
2. In a large skillet or pot add the olive oil and butter and heat until butter is slightly frothy. Add the onions and stir until translucent, about 8 minutes over medium heat. Add the garlic, chili flakes and thyme and stir for 1 minute. Add the Arborio and toast for 2 minutes, you should hear a faint crackling sound. Add the wine and stir until completely evaporated. Add the mushrooms.
3. Add a cup and a half (1 1/2 cup) stock to the risotto. Season with salt and pepper and stir continuously until the liquid is almost completely evaporated. Continue to add stock 1/2 cup at a time, making to stir continually while each addition is absorbed. Continue until risotto is al dente (just tender).
4. Once tender, stir in 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Divide the risotto into heated bowls and serve with a little extra freshly ground parmesan.
by Amanda Riva