Russell Ito says he cooks for fun because it's a relaxing diversion from the intensity of his work. Therefore, he's willing to take extra steps like making vegetable broth for the risotto, using fresh pea pods and mushroom trimmings. But canned broth works equally well for cooks who have to get meals together on a tight schedule.
1/2 pound mushrooms, a mixture (at least 2 kinds and any combination) of chanterelle, common, portabella, and shiitake
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 onion (about 6 oz.), peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups white arborio or pearl (medium-grain) rice
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth
1 cup shelled fresh or frozen petite peas
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
How to Make It
Trim and discard any grit or soil and discolored stem ends from mushrooms (trim and discard shiitake stems). Immerse mushrooms in cool water, swishing gently to rinse well, then quickly lift out and drain. Thinly slice mushrooms.
In a 3- to 4-quart pan over medium-high heat, combine oil, garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Stir often until vegetables just begin to brown, about 6 minutes. Add rice and stir until some of the grains are opaque, about 2 minutes.
Add 4 cups broth to pan; when it boils, reduce heat to medium or medium-low and simmer, stirring often, until rice is just tender to bite, 15 to 20 minutes. Add peas and butter and stir often until peas are tender to bite, 2 to 5 minutes. For a creamier risotto, add more broth until mixture is desired consistency and boiling. Stir in half the cheese. Season risotto to taste with salt and pepper, pour into a bowl, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Two Stars: Has Potential. Perhaps a better, more creative chef than myself can liven up this dish. It was boring. Period. I did use Jasmine rice (cheaper), but I don't know if it would have made a difference. I added soy sauce to the leftovers, and that added a great kick. It could use some work.
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