A warm and creamy risotto is the perfect comfort food to warm you up on a cold winter’s day. It only takes a few ingredients to make, and can be made vegetarian by substituting the chicken broth with vegetable broth.
People are often scared to make risotto because of how easy it is to screw up without watching it like a hawk. And they’re not wrong—you do have to keep on stirring it for a good 20 minutes or so for the consistency of the rice to be right. I usually like to take this opportunity to cook an easy side dish like roasted vegetables in the oven while I give the risotto my undivided attention.
Risotto, like pasta, is super versatile and makes a great backdrop to all sorts of toppings like seafood and veggies. I decided to top mine with dried shiitake mushrooms (an Asian favorite!), rehydrated in chicken stock and then toasted in the oven with olive oil. Mushrooms and risotto are a classic pairing, and for those that are feeling really fancy, you can also finish off your risotto with truffle oil or truffle shavings.
I made my risotto with my mom’s homemade Chicken broth, which is super simple to make. She doesn’t add any herbs or spices to the broth, since a traditional Chinese chicken broth is pretty light in flavor and is focused mostly on the Chicken flavor. To make this simple broth, add a whole cleaned chicken, dried shiitake mushrooms, and water to a slow cooker, and cook overnight (or until the chicken becomes tender). My mom didn’t initially add salt into the slow cooker, since she knew that the broth would be reused for multiple dishes. This way, the broth could be adjusted according to the dish.
Of course, this risotto is totally possible with store-bought chicken broth, or vegetable broth if you’re vegetarian.
Parmesan and Butter Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms
Ingredients (serves 3-4 people)
- 1 cup arborio or short grain rice
- 3-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- ½ cup sliced button mushrooms
- ½ cup dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 shallot
- 2 sprigs of thyme, chopped finely
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp butter
- splash of white wine
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- chopped chives for garnish
Takes , Makes enough for 3-4 people.
- Heat up the chicken or vegetable broth and toss in the dried shiitake mushrooms to rehydrate them. After the broth is heated, take out the mushrooms to set aside. Leave the broth on the stove to keep it warm.
- Add butter to a nonstick pot or large saucepan and sauté the shallots, garlic, thyme, and sliced button mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the uncooked rice to the pan, covering it with the vegetables, butter, and seasonings. Add the white wine and cook until it's semi-evaporated.
- Start ladling in the warm chicken broth in half-cup increments. Make sure you don't add too much broth, or your risotto will end up like a porridge or a soup. Stir the rice with the broth constantly, until some of the liquid has cooked into the rice or evaporated, then continue the process with more broth.
- When you're finally finished stirring most of the chicken broth into the rice—or until your rice is fully cooked through (to the texture of your liking)—melt another tbsp of butter into the rice to get that rich, silky texture. Melt half of your portion of parmesan cheese into the rice as well, if you like your risotto to be creamy and cheesy. If the parmesan cheese hasn't provided enough saltiness to your risotto, feel free to mix in more salt and pepper.
- Take your pan off the heat and put a lid over your risotto. Chop up the shiitake mushrooms you previously set aside, toss them in a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, and pop them into a 450° F oven for about 3-5 minutes until they're nice and toasted.
- Spoon the risotto onto a plate and top it with the toasted mushrooms. Drizzle with more olive oil if desired, and garnish with parmesan cheese and chopped chives.
This is the perfect restaurant-style dish to make for Valentine’s Day! (Okay… maybe try it out a few times first and make sure you’ve nailed it before you try to impress your special one) Good luck in the kitchen, and please tag me @cinders_zhang on Instagram if you end up making it :)