Archived entries for risotto

All the Garlic, All the Time: Garlic Chicken Risotto

“What’s for dinner?”

The way that you somehow know which food sounds good to eat at any given moment kind of astounds me. Do I want Italian tonight? Burritos? Maybe a banh mi? Or just an open box of Triscuits, a jar of Nutella, and a handful of Craisins? Sometimes I want something light and delicate and citrusy and green.

And then sometimes: sometimes I just want garlic.


If this garlic-loving mood ever strikes you, I have the exact perfect thing: a gorgeously thick risotto with garlic two ways. It’s not delicate, it is not subtle; this pops you upside the head with flavor. Sharp pops of heat from the finely minced bits, and a soft, oozing unctuousness that tastes like nothing so much as sweet, mild honey, from the slow-cooked whole cloves. They are seriously magical, and you will probably wish that you had more than what the recipe calls for.


I ended up skipping on the risotto-standard cheese finish — it was already easily rich enough, and I honestly kind of didn’t want the cheese to interfere with my garlicfest. The same restraint didn’t apply when it came time to consider the white truffle oil. (Sidenote: regardless of what unabashed berk Gordon Ramsay, et al. have to say on the matter, you can try to pry my white truffle oil out of my cold, dead hands…but chances are good I will reanimate as a zombie to prevent you. And then I will eat your brains. With white truffle oil on top.)

I will admit that I ate this on a pleasant solitary evening, curled up on my couch with a Doctor Who marathon, so i can’t speak to the state of one’s breath when all is said and done…so I’d probably suggest dishing this up DURING a date, to spread the garlicky wealth, instead of scarfing down a solitary bowl by yourself beforehand.
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A shot of spice: Tequila-lime Shrimp with Spicy Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

I got a phone call the other day from my old college roommate, Hannah. She’s been living in Grozny and Sierra Leone since 2004, but she’s working in New York for a few months. She was checking out apartments from Brooklyn to the Upper East side, looking for a room to sublet during her time in the city.

“I’m in your neighborhood, I think,” she said, and we made plans to meet up after she saw the room. She called back two minutes later. “Um, when I said in your neighborhood, I meant in your building,” she said. “Your name is on the mailbox downstairs.” Sure enough, the room that she’d found randomly on craigslist was just two floors down from me! So for two months, we will pretend to be roommates again, and catch up after being many, many miles apart since graduation.

This meal, which we made with another college friend/former roommate (the lovely Jackie), was perfect for collaborative cooking. (I can take no credit for the recipe selection—Jackie chose these, and they were winners.)

The three of us took turns stirring while we drank some wine—none of the labor was too taxing. At the last minute, when the risotto has softened adequately, the shrimp cook up quick in a pan (or a grill, if you have it.)

Studded with corn and peppers and spiked with spice, this dish is not your mama’s risotto. It has a real kick to it, balanced by the sweetness of red peppers and shrimp. Keep a glass of water (or a beer) handy.

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Less tang, more character: Mushroom risotto


When I was but a wee whippersnapper and newbie to the world of cooking, the first “complex” dish I undertook was risotto. This was right after Jamie Oliver’s first cookbook came out, and people were starting to figure out that you could actually make this crazy stuff at home! Of course, with that knowledge came plenty of grousing, largely about how tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime consuming it was, how teeeeeeemperameeeeeeeeental it was. You know the drill. Naturally, this wave of petulance and frustration attracted me to the dish like nothing else (you may have noticed a behavioral pattern here): it was hard, which meant I had to master it! Of course.

The part that confused me: it wasn’t that hard at all. It wasn’t that persnickety. Yes, it was time consuming, yes it required a certain amount of my attention. But as I discovered (to my extreme surprise), risotto is ultimately a pretty simple basic formula (rice, liquid, patience), which you can then dress up any way you like. The first risotto I made featured goat’s cheese and dried cranberries; since then, I’ve come up with several lovely variations that I pull out on various occasions, including the mushroom variety I whipped out the other day at dinner for our lovely friend Claire.


I’m particularly fond of this risotto because it is so light–the original recipe doesn’t even call for any cheese (though, really. Like I’m going to skip the cheese. Come on. But it can be done!)–but so incredibly flavorful that it feels terribly indulgent. I am inclined to credit the inclusion of the liquid trifecta (a combination of marsala or madeira, white wine, and stock) that is used to pull out the creamy starch in the rice; it’s unexpected and subtle, but adds a certain sweetness (as do the peas) that complements the meatiness of the mushrooms.

I won’t lie: you do need to be kind of vigilant. To get the right consistency, you will need to stand at your stovetop for 40 minutes or so, gently massaging the starch out of the rice (emphasis on gently) and plying it with liquid. But, it’s not a complicated endeavor–you can quite merrily drink wine and chat with guests while you do it, as it won’t really require a great deal of concentrated focus. Your guests, however, will not need to know that. I encourage you heartily to let them think that you are, in fact, the most brilliant multitasking chef-host-genius ever to walk the earth. No one will dare question your bold statement once they taste this stuff.

Mushroom Risotto

1c arborio rice
2 large portobello caps, cut into pieces 1/2″x1/2″
6oz shiitake mushrooms (stems removed and reserved), coarsely chopped
6oz white button mushrooms (stems removed and reserved), finely chopped
2 shallots, chopped fine
1c frozen peas
1 head garlic (roasted and pureed)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2c grated parmesan cheese

1c marsala wine
1c white wine
2-3c stock (ideally, a combination of mushroom–which you can make by simmering the stems you reserved above in some water–and chicken)

  1. Saute the mushrooms in 1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp butter on medium-low heat until reduced in size by approx 2/3. Deglaze pan with slug of marsala wine, set liquid aside.
  2. Saute the shallot in remaining butter and oil (and some salt) until shallots are golden
  3. Add rice, stir until coated with oil and translucent (about 1 min)
  4. Turn up heat to medium, add 1c of the stock and stir until all absorbed.
  5. Add the cooked mushrooms and garlic puree.
  6. Add the remaining stock and wine, 1 cup at a time, until the rice is soft and creamy.
  7. Add peas and cheese. Cover and set aside for 10 mins or so. Serve with a shaving of parmesan on top.

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