Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mushroom Spinach Risotto

Risotto has been the "it" food the last couple years for restaurants, gone are the rice pilafs of the 90s, they have been replaced by appetizer, small plate and dish variations of the creamy rice. I was first introduced to risotto by Chef Ramsey and his friends over at Hell's Kitchen. Every episode the contestants struggle to make a perfect risotto for the Hell's Kitchen customers. Why is it the professional chefs can't seem to master this dish? I don't get it, after watching 3 seasons, I know that all participants on a Ramsey show need to be able to cook a perfect risotto, a Wellington steak and scallops, other dishes rotate through, but those three are always a must. . .I digress. . .

Surprisingly, I haven't actually had a risotto in a restaurant yet, but I have made a couple variations of my own, and find it to be quite yummy. For today's recipe you will need the following:

Olive oil
1 lb mushrooms (stems removed and chopped in large pieces)
2 cups fresh spinach
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
3 garlic cloves chopped
1.5 cups arbiorro rice
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I made mine with Better than Bouillon)

Start by heating a large saucepan on medium heat. Add some olive oil, when heated, add garlic and cook for a minute, or until fragrant, but not burned.

Then add the mushrooms and and cook until soft (only a few minutes).

Now, add the spinach, cook for 1 minute, then sit aside. The spinach will continue to wilt while it rests. Do NOT remove the flavorful mushroom juices, you will use those later.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add some olive oil.

Once your oil is heated, add your onion (I opted for a red onion today) and cook until translucent.

When your onion is ready, add the rice to the pan, turning to coat in the oil, lightly toasting the rice.

You're not ready for the red-light green-light potion of the cooking. Start by adding 1 - 2 cups of the broth (green light), then wait (red light) for it to cook up. . .

Add another cup of broth (green light), then wait for it to cook up (red light). . .repeat this process until you have added all six cups of broth. Make sure you don't over cook it though, you want the risotto to have a creamy consistency, you'll see it begins to thicken the more broth that is added.

And, if you end up with an ill-behaved child that has to be put in baby time-out, make sure to add more broth before stepping away to ensure the risotto doesn't get too dry.

He really doesn't like being put in time out. . .go figure.

When time out is over, don't forget to salt throughout, you won't need a ton, but if you add a little throughout it really helps bring out the flavor as it gets absorbed into the rice.
Once you've added all the broth, and while it's still soupy, add the mushroom mixture (with juices).

(Notice, the now happy Little Guy who has been sprung from baby jail)

Back to dinner, this is what it should look like when you add the mushrooms, notice, the consistency.


Risotto should always be served right away, this is not a dish you can make and then wait for people who are late for dinner. Remove from the heat when you plate it so it doesn't continue to cook.

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