Risotto is near the top of my list of winter meal go-tos.
Warm, creamy, endlessly versatile and impressive enough for guests—it’s a comfort dish that ticks all the boxes.
One of my favorite dishes to eat, risotto is also one of my favorite dishes to prepare. Some think it fussy, but I find making it to be quite therapeutic. There’s something about the stirring. Tending carefully to a pan of simmering risotto gives me time to think about where and how I learned to make it (in Figline Valdarno in Tuscany).
I also love to teach risotto technique. Becoming a great cook requires one to pay attention, to focus, to tap into the senses and to get comfortable with instinct. It also requires patience and practice, something risotto especially entails. And while a teacher or a good recipe can help get you started, once you learn the basics, risotto requires virtually no measuring and it’s as easy to make for two as it is for 12.
This month, I’m sharing a basic risotto recipe as well as my personal favorite—mushroom and mascarpone. As far as tips, my best advice is to use the right kind of rice (arborio or carnaroli); use wine to add much-needed acidity (and to sip while you stir); cook until tooth-tender (good risotto should have texture/bite); and serve it like a Tuscan—on a plate—allowing the risotto to spread (the resulting “sauce” should be alla onda, or wavy, not thick or sticky). I hope you’ll enjoy!
- 6 cups cooking liquid (such as broth, stock, water or combo)
- 1 ½ Tbsp. Kowalski’s extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups risotto rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
- aromatics (such as 1-1 ½ cups chopped onion and/or 2-4 cloves minced garlic)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- stir-ins (such as 1 cup cheese(s); fresh chopped herbs, kosher salt and Kowalski’s coarse ground black pepper to taste; cooked vegetables or meats)
Bring cooking liquid to a simmer in a small saucepan; keep warm but do not boil. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and aromatics; sauté 5 minutes. Add wine; cook until liquid evaporates. Add 2 cups cooking liquid to rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is nearly absorbed (about 5 minutes); if liquid takes much longer or much less than 5 minutes to absorb, adjust heat up or down slightly. Add another 1 cup liquid; stirring occasionally and cooking until the liquid is almost gone again (another 5 minutes). Continue adding liquid, 1 cup at a time, cooking until rice is tender (about 15 minutes more). Stir in remaining ingredients until cheese is melted and ingredients are evenly heated through. Serve immediately while risotto is very hot.
Note: More or less cooking liquid may be required.
Mushroom and Mascarpone Risotto
- 3 cups boiling water
- 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
- 28 oz. low-sodium beef broth (or vegetable stock)
- 1 ½ cups chopped shallots
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup grated Kowalski’s Parmesan Cheese
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
Use the ingredients above as directed in the recipe for Basic Risotto. Pour boiling water over mushrooms in a medium bowl and soak 10 minutes; drain mushrooms, reserving 2 ½ cups liquid. Strain liquid in a fine mesh strainer to remove sediment. Combine strained mushroom soaking liquid with beef broth to create cooking liquid. Chop mushrooms; add to cooked risotto when other stir-ins are added.
Rachael Perron is the culinary and brand director for Kowalski’s Markets, where she specializes in product development and selection, culinary education and communications.