I Will Never Arm Wrestle An Old Italian Woman

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Feel my muscle!
Feel my muscle!

Okay, so I am NEVER arm wrestling an Italian woman. Why? Because she has made risotto all her life and can now lift a SMART Car.  I don’t know about you but sometimes when I read recipes and I see “Stir constantly until…”, I avoid it like the plague.  I do not want to sit there and stir until my rotator cuff seizes up.  A thick custard?  You might as well give me an arm sling.  But there is one recipe that I will give up the use of my arm for a week…risotto.  This creamy, pasta-like dish is so good. I know it may be a little effort and you may need to stand over the hot stove for a little bit but trust me, it is worth it.  

Risotto tips:
Type of Rice–  Aborrio rice is the most common rice to use in risotto.  Slow cooking pulls out the starch and creates the creamy texture
Toasting the Rice – when making risotto, you have to toast the rice grain so it will release the starch
This rice has an attitude – okay, here’s the deal, when you read the recipe below it says, “add broth till the rice stops absorbing the liquid.”  It may be different each time so I can’t give you a definite amount.
Warm Broth – one of the key steps in making risotto is keeping the broth hot.  If you continue to add cold broth and have to bring the rice back up to boil each time, it would take forever to make this dish. 

Let’s get started.  I decided to make wild mushroom risotto but to make the basic recipe, don’t add mushrooms, onion or nutmeg.  I used beef broth in this recipe but you can use chicken or vegetable – your choice. 

Wild Mushroom Risotto
1 cup Aborrio Rice
2 32oz boxes of beef broth
I medium onion, diced
2 pints of mushrooms (baby bellas)
2 cups grated parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
2 tablespoons butter
1 pinch of nutmeg
Olive Oil
Kosher salt
Cracker pepper

To get started, go ahead and get your broth in a covered sauce pan and bring to a simmer.  

Picture by Ray Hydrick

Photo by Ray Hydrick

Add a tablespoon of oilive oil and a tablespoon of butter to a sauté pan on medium high heat.  When butter is melted, add mushrooms.  Sprinkle with kosher salt, cracked pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.   Occasionally stir until mushrooms are soft and liquid is evaporated. 

Photo by Ray Hydrick

Photo by Ray Hydrick

Add another tablespoon of olive oil and another tablespoon of butter in the sauté pan.  Add onion.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stir until soft but not brown.  Add the rice.  Stir to coat the rice in the hot oil and onion mixture for about a minute.  

Steam Burn Warning!

Steam Burn Warning!

Time for the broth – Kitchen Mischief Warning: when adding the first two ladles of broth, be careful…a steam burn is not fun.  Add two ladles of broth and stir till the liquid is absorbed.  Add an additional ladle of broth and stir. When the liquid is gone, add another.  Continue this process until rice stops absorbing liquid and is creamy and yet still aldente (still has a little texture – not mushy like the spaghetti the cafeteria workers at high school made). 

Photo by Ray Hydrick

Photo by Ray Hydrick

Add the mushrooms back to the risotto and then stir in the cheese.   

Wild Mushroom Risotto with Chicken Sausage

Wild Mushroom Risotto with Chicken Sausage

We are done and yet we have only begun to scratch the surface of what you can add to risotto.  So here are few of my favorites:

  • Prosciutto and sweet peas– add crispy prosciutto (baked in a 350 degree oven till crisp) and a handful of frozen sweet peas (thawed in hot water from the tap)
  • Grilled chicken and spinach – add too handfuls of baby spinach to the hot mixture and stir until wilted. Top with sliced grilled chicken
  • Bacon and fresh diced tomato – add smokey bacon and fresh diced tomato  

I admire the classic, Italian woman; she doesn’t need her spin classes or body pump…she has risotto and fresh pasta to make. So warm your arm up and get ready to stir because you will make this easy dish over and over.  While you contemplate your favorite toppings, I am off to eat my risotto and ice my shoulder.

Unplanned Italian Week
Speaking of tough Italian women, Josh is making homemade marinara. Come back Thursday and read about his adventure – I have a feeling there is mischief involved.  Hmmm, maybe I can talk him into making homemade pasta.  ;)

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4 Responses to “I Will Never Arm Wrestle An Old Italian Woman”

  1. jamie Says:

    Looks delicious and you make it seem so simple. I don’t understand why no one on Hell’s Kitchen can get it right!

  2. Jessica Otwell Says:

    One of my favorite dishes! I love it with mushrooms and tomatoes. Yummers!

  3. Josh Says:

    Homemade pasta my ass! Okay, but maybe just once and we’ll have to commit to a week of postings due to all of the mischief that will occur! ;) PS: now i want risotto REAL BAD.

  4. Susan Rigby Says:

    hmmmmmmmmmmmmm….looks so yummy!!!…love the pictures…ya’ll are so talented!!!!

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