Risotto is one of my favorite side dishes and a great alternative to pasta or regular rice. My Dad, who has never been known for his culinary skills, went through a risotto making phase, and his fascination with the dish was contagious. I guess I am sort of my Dad’s successor as the family risotto maker. Although risotto is somewhat labor intensive, it is not at all difficult. You can experiment with a variety of different ingredients and flavors or follow any multitude of recipes that are available. It can be served as a side dish, first course (as is the primary tradition in Italy), or, with the addition of meat or seafood, it can hold its own as a main dish. This recipe can be altered by using just mushrooms or just asparagus, but I enjoy the contrast of flavors produced by using both ingredients.
- 2 Cups Risotto
- 4-6 Cups Chicken Broth (substitute Vegetable Broth for Vegetarian)
- 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio)
- 1 Bunch Asparagus chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1Package (typically 8 oz.) Mixed Wild Mushrooms* Chopped
- 2 TBS. Finely Chopped Shallot
- 2 TBS. Unsalted Butter
- 3 TBS. Olive Oil
- 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
* You can buy gourmet wild mushrooms in a package; if not available, use any combination of your choice, such as crimini, shitake, portobella, maitake, or whatever is available. You can always substitute regular white or button mushrooms, but the flavor in the wild mushrooms, in my opinion, is always better.
In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a steady simmer. Heat 2 TBS. olive oil in a saute pan. Saute shallots, asparagus and mushrooms until tender. Set aside. In a Medium- Large Saucepan, heat 2 TBS. butter and remaining TBS. olive oil. Add risotto and stir until risotto is well coated. Add sauteed shallots, asparagus, and mushroom mixture to risotto. Add 1/2 cup wine and heat through, stirring constantly.Begin adding simmering broth to the risotto one ladle at a time. Stir constantly. Once broth is almost completely absorbed, add another ladle of broth, stirring constantly. Continue this process until risotto is creamy and tender to the bite (about 20-30 minutes). You may not necessarily use all 6 cups of broth. Stir in Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper as necessary and serve immediately.