When Greg talks about how easy it is to make risotto, I nod wholeheartedly in agreement gulping wine and watching him stir. I do love to watch him stir. Wait where was I? Oh yes, the simplicity of risotto. But in more than a decade of togetherness, I’d only made risotto twice, once with him standing over my shoulder. That effort came out perfectly, but the batch of asparagus risotto I attempted years ago was a waste of good vegetables and rice. (Greg says that’s just a trickier recipe, but I’m not sure he’s being truthful.)
In any case, with him running late one night and my appetite in overdrive, I took the plunge. And let me tell you risotto virgins, if I can nail it you can too. Also, I am a little worried about the search engine terms that last sentence might bring.
Instead of using Arborio rice, I used an Italian brown rice that was in our sample pack from Marx Foods, along with the mushrooms and truffle salt. The rice soaks up more liquid and has a nuttier flavor than Arborio. It also took a bit longer to cook, around 30 minutes.
Brown rice risotto
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup Italian Integrale rice (see note)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/3 cup dried black trumpet mushrooms
- roughly 4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup grated Romano
- 1/4 tsp black truffle salt or 1/2 tsp truffle oil (optional)
- salt/pepper to taste
Place dried mushrooms in a measuring cup and fill with a cup of boiling water. Allow to soak for about a half hour. Then squeeze out all the liquid, reserving it, and chop the mushrooms. Pour chicken or vegetable stock in a sauce pan and heat to a simmer. Melt butter and olive oil in large saute pan. Add garlic and saute on medium heat until softened, about 1-2 minutes. Add rice and mix well to coat in the oil on medium heat, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook until it evaporates. Add liquid from the mushrooms and cook until rice absorbs it. Switch to simmering chicken stock and add about a cup at a time. Each time the rice absorbs most of the liquid, add another cup of stock. When about four cups worth of total liquid has been absorbed season with salt and pepper, but do not add too much salt because the Romano is slightly salty. Continue to add stock until rice is creamy and has no bite. When rice is creamy add cheese and stir to incorporate. Turn off heat and allow risotto to sit for about 10 minutes.
Note: Here’s how Marx Foods describes the rice I used: “Integrale rice is an Italian brown rice (whole grain/unpearled rice) that can be used to make risotto. Because the outer bran is left on, this rice offers additional nutrients and fiber, as well as a different texture and taste, when compared to other risotto rice varieties.”
Bonus risotto story: A few years ago, Greg and I were in St. Louis visiting a friend and ate at an Italian restaurant on The Hill. An elderly man next to us kept pestering the waiter, while his wife
hid behind studied the menu. “It’s been 25 minutes, why isn’t our risotto here?” The longer this went on, the more agitated I became. Finally, I leaned over and said: “Good risotto takes time you numbskull, you’re lucky they’re not flash freezing it or parboiling it or whatever lesser restaurants do!” OK, I didn’t say that, but only because Greg grabbed my hand and the risotto finally arrived. Also, I’d only had one glass of wine. It all reminded me a little of Stanley Tucci: