This recipe is very much a part of my roots. Yes, it is Italian, but those are not the roots I am referring to. The past few years have really had me thinking about where my passion for cooking and love of food really came from. I was always a child who ate way more than I should have and who was insanely curious about the cooking process. Creating something from simple ingredients was, and is still, something that amazes me.
My parents would take my siblings and I out to restaurants, on the rare special occasion, and on these occasions I would, and to this day still, take in every ounce of the experience. I always think about how I can execute the dish, which ingredients I need, how I can present it, how I can change it – for me this is innate. One dish that I always ordered as a younger person was mushroom risotto. I LOVE this dish. The meatiness of the mushroom, the creaminess of the risotto – it is so indulgent and satisfying. What is there not to love? I also love the versatility of risotto. You can pretty much make a risotto using any ingredient. It’s also very easy to add different flavours, make it more gourmet (adding truffle oil) or traditional (adding shaved Parmesan cheese on top).
This dish is the very first dish that I searched for a recipe for on the internet, printed it and made it for someone. Seems pretty simple, I know, but it was the start of my crazy cooking obsession, my menu planning madness, my love of presentation, and the list goes on. I have made this dish more times than I can ever remember. Here is my basic recipe – I like it exactly how it is here, personally. Why try and change a good thing? I’ve varied this recipe many times but the standard recipe you see here is still my favourite, hands-down. Funny story – I made this as my dish on the childhood episode of MasterChef Canada Season One. I tried to make it all fancy and gourmet and the judges were very unimpressed. I am so glad their comments about my dish didn’t make the aired episode! I was really, really upset but I learned a great lesson that day – Less is more.
This is also my favourite dish to make for my guests. I don’t know many people who don’t like this dish! Another side story – the photo pictured above was taken by a friend and talented photographer, at my house. I cooked my favourite dish for her for lunch and she took this beautiful photo for me.
Thanks for taking the time to learn a little bit more about me. I hope this recipe and more importantly this story inspires you someway, somehow.
Julie’s Mushroom Risotto
1 cup each of Mushrooms (Portabella, Shiitake, brown gourmet), cleaned, stems removed and sliced
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups good quality chicken stock
1 cup good quality Arborio rice
Extra virgin olive oil
S & P to taste
Fresh chopped basil
1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat olive oil in a sauté pan at medium high heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add your mushrooms and gently spread them out so they are not crowded at the bottom of your large saute pan. (Try not to fuss with them too much because poking them causes water to release. You will end up boiling your mushrooms which will make them mushy). When your mushrooms are nicely browned, add your rice and toast for about 2 minutes. Toasting will add an intense flavor to your rice and really take your risotto to another level.
- In a separate pot, heat the chicken stock. Add a ladle of chicken stock at a time to your rice until absorbed. Gradually stir in more chicken broth in ladles over a period of about 10 to 12 minutes, adding more as each previous amount is absorbed.
- When the rice is al dente, meaning it still has a nice bite to it, then it is ready. check your seasoning. You also want to make sure the risotto keeps its creamy texture and it slowly sinks when it is heaped on the plate.
- Serve immediately. Scoop out one ladle full per guest. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and freshly chopped basil. Pour a glass of wine (always wine) and enjoy!