A good risotto should be both creamy, and resistant, with al dente bite to the rice grains, and a delicious sauce. I sometimes use a mixture of brown rice and barley. The rice must be short grain, arborio, or for paella. Maybe sushi rice would work too under this treatment. Just don’t use long grain rice. Here in Houston the cheapest appropriate rice is sold in the Hispanic grocery sections. We nearly always make a porcini mushroom risotto, but I’m going to try a Milanese one with saffron soon. I never bother with a true broth, and just use bouillon cubes. You can get them without MSG these days.
If I’m listening to All Things Considered on NPR, or a good book on tape, I don’t mind having a pot of liquid boiling, and slowly adding it to the constantly-stirred rice, letting the liquid absorb before I add more. But Rita Cervo, my friend from Florence, taught me this much simpler method using a pressure cooker. I love pressure cookers. For the same amount of heat energy, you get things cooked in a fraction of the time. This is a recipe in quantity, for risotto reheats marvelously – just add a little water or white wine. By the way, Italians vary a lot in how soupy they like their risotto. You should try both dry and soupy, and see what you like best. I’m inclined to think the aromas come out best towards the soupy side.
Risotto with porcini mushrooms
2 medium white onions, chopped
0.25 cups olive oil (Never waste a great olive oil in cooking – just go for a standard Italian extra virgin. If you want a great olive oil taste, drizzle the good oil on after cooking, the way the Tuscans do.)
3 cups short grain rice, arborio ideally, or barley
2 cups sliced white mushrooms (or any kind)
0.5 cup (15 grams) dried porcini mushrooms (double this if you are skipping the fresh mushrooms)
2 bouillon cubes, ideally porcini flavored
6 cups boiling water or broth if you want to skip the bouillon cubes
2 cups grated parmesan cheese, or to taste.
0.5 cups white wine
Put the water on to boil, and the dried mushrooms in a container that can take the boiling water.
Sauté the onions and fresh mushrooms in the bottom of the pressure cooker until golden and browning.
Then add the rice to the onions and cook for a minute or so, stirring.
Meanwhile, as soon as it boils, pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms and bouillon cubes. Let rest a few minutes while onions finish browning.
Add liquid to rice-oinion mixture in the pressure cooker, seal, and cook 15 minutes from time cooker comes to pressure.
Cool (I run water on the pressure cooker – don’t know if this is safe), open when little pressure thingy drops, indicating it is no longer under high pressure.
Stir in parmesan and white wine and serve. Some put parsley on top, but I don’t.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, instead simply stir the hot liquid into the rice, a ladle at a time, stirring when you do so. In this case, you should have the liquid with dried mushrooms also simmering on the stove next to the rice pot. It is ok to prepare the rest of the meal, or clean up the kitchen in between stirs. I think this method might take more liquid – it is easy to check as you go.
First, sauté the onions in olive oil.
Dried porcini are worth bringing back from Italy! I splurged and used a cup – 30 grams. If I had fresh mushrooms also, I would have used less.
I got these at the Coop in Ferrara since I couldn’t get them from the person I usually bought from in Montevarchi.
Soak the dried porcini in boiling water while the onion browns. (This is 4 cups water and I added another 2 to make 6.)
Another thing worth bringing back from Italy – I used 2 dadi for 3 cups rice – maybe too salty, so use a little less.
Stir the rice or barley into the browned onions, add the water, and cook at pressure 15 minutes.
Grate some parmesan and throw it in – maybe 2 cups.
Yum! See the mix of barley and brown short grain rice? The grains are still al dente, as they should be.
Oops, that doesn’t even mention the parmesan cheese!