8 oz shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 tsp oil
salt and pepper
1 T oil
4 oz pancetta, small diced
1/2 medium onion, small diced
1 c arborio rice
1/4 tsp or a big pinch of thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked pepper
6 c chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
1/4 c parmesan
1 T butter
I recommend preparing the mushrooms first. Once you get the hang of risotto, you can do a lot more, but to start, get the garnish ready first.
In a sauté pan on medium heat, heat the oil, add the mushrooms, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and sauté just until al dente, no more than two minutes. Remove from the heat.
In a large pot, I prefer a dutch oven, on medium high heat, sauté the pancetta, onion, and oil. Get your favorite wooden spoon, and a glass of wine. Stirring occasionally, allowing the onions to soften, and the pancetta to brown, about five minutes. (While you are doing this, prepare your kids by putting out a snack – not a healthy one they won’t eat because you don’t want to waste energy arguing, and you don’t want to get another snack, make sure the bandaids are in reach, and paper towels too. It’s about to get real.)
Turn the heat down to medium. Add the rice, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir. The rice should look like shiny pearls. Toast them for one minute.
Look at your kitchen clock and mark the time.
Add one cup of stock. This is a low and slow method, and you are now at the stove for the next thirty minutes. For realz. No going back. The stock will come to a boil quickly because the pot is so hot. Stir. Stir constantly. It doesn’t need to be rigorous, just keep the rice moving. Three minutes should have passed.
Add the second cup of stock. Stirring for five minutes.
Add the third cup of stock. Stirring for five minutes. (Remind your kids, they will not starve because dinner is just seventeen minutes away now.)
Add the fourth cup of stock. Stirring for five minutes.
Add the fifth cup of stock. Stirring for five minutes. (I know you had to send someone to their room, and you are doubting if this is worth, and it is. Think about it, you can do nothing but stir. You are not making peace amongst your kids, you are not helping with math homework, you are not cleaning up the spilled milk you specifically told your child not to get. You are just stirring.)
You look at the clock. Twenty three minutes has passed.
Add the final (sixth) cup of stock. Stirring for five minutes.
Remove from the heat, and add the parmesan. Add the butter, and cover with a lid.
Go get your kid in time out, go get your kid playing basketball.
Stir in the melted butter. Top with the mushrooms.
Sit. Breath. Enjoy. You did it. You made the risotto.
Risotto is a labor of love, worth every minute you stand stirring.
I have been met with some ridiculous risotto dinner night circumstances. It’s getting easier with my guys a little older. They can get the unhealthy snack without me, and I haven’t had to put a band aid on someone in awhile because they can do it themselves.
Once you master risotto you can add in all kinds of different veg, this just happens to be my favorite.
The pancetta can be eliminated to make this vegetarian friendly.
Leftovers? Yes, this can be reheated with no issue.