A few weeks ago I went to the market and found chive blossoms, and lots of small white fresh onions. I had a box of organic Arborio rice that needed to be used quickly. You see I love organic, but organics products have to be used quickly as they spoil easily due to the lack of preservatives and pesticides.
Everything was calling for risotto. So risotto it was.
My first taste of risotto was at culinary school. I have eaten all kinds of rice dishes before, but nothing like risotto. The closest rice recipe I had ever eaten was a soupy rice soup we had in the DR called “asopao”, this dish is the closer comparison I can make to risotto. The first time I made it in one of my classes, the result resembled more arroz con pollo, but my chef instructor was nice and went easy on criticizing my dish; moreover, I knew it was not good. So out of my first risotto disaster came the challenge of trying to make a better one. At first I had a problem with the al dente texture characteristic of this plate. I have always eaten rice, but was not used to eating rice which I thought then was uncooked. It was not until my last level at cooking school at the school restaurant that I truly learned how to make a good risotto. It was then when I fully understood the dynamic of this rice dish.
I learned that making risotto is not the same as cooking any other rice dish; risotto has texture, is has to have a bite or al dente feel in the middle of the rice grain. It has to be rich and creamery; this result is acquired by the addition of butter and parmesan cheese, by the technique used while adding the stock (one ladle at a time before adding more liquid) and by the beating given to the dish right after the heat is turned off. Yes a good beating, this is what gives risotto the creaminess for which it is known.
I love rice, but this risotto is much more. The rice is first cooked in olive oil with small white onions freshly picked from the market (I normally use shallots) the same week. The addition of garlic, mushrooms, wine, and pecorino cheese elevates this dish to a very special rice dish plate.
Since I have the beautiful chives blossoms, I ended up adding some of the green stems in and finished the risotto with the beautiful garlicky blossoms.
Also, I sautéed a few of the fresh onions, shishito and jalapeño peppers for more garnishing and tossed in a few calamatas olives.
To round up the dish throw in a fried egg and there you have it. The result, a rich Mushroom Risotto with sautéed Onions-Peppers and Fried egg that is rich, light and sustainable cooked. Enjoy it.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more to fry eggs
- 2-4 small fresh white onions or 2 large shallots, cut or diced small and evenly
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup fresh chives, chopped
- 1 pound baby Bella mushrooms, cut or diced small and evenly
- ½ cup white wine
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock, kept hot in a separate pot
- ½ stick butter (4 tablespoons)
- 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Reggiano, plus more for serving
- Chive blossoms, parsley, minced
- Fried egg, shishito and jalapeño peppers (sautéed)
- Calamatas olive (optional)
- Pecorino or parmesan cheese
First warm up the chicken or vegetable stock. In a small pot bring it to a boil and then remove from heat. Keep stock warm in a hot bath until needed. Or just heat extra stock and keep it warm on low heat while cooking the rice.
In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent. Once the onions are soft or caramelized add the rice and stir well until rice is coated with the oil (to stir the rice a wooden spoon is recommended).
Cook for about 5 minutes stirring it occasionally. Add the garlic, mushrooms and chives and cook for about 4 minutes more being careful not to burn it. Season the rice with salt and black pepper. Add the white wine and stir to mix. With a ladle add enough stock to cover the rice stirring while adding it. Continue stirring until all the stock is absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladle at a time. Wait until all the liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladle of stock. Continue adding the stock to the risotto until rice is tender and creamy (rice has to have a bite in the center).
Turn off heat; now stir in the butter and cheese and stir vigorously until it is well mixed; Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
Serve with the fried egg, chives blossoms and extra parmesan or pecorino cheese.
To fry the eggs:
To fry the egg just add some olive oil to a small skillet and add the egg. Allow the egg white edges to crisp then turn over the egg and immediately turn off the heat.
To sautéed the peppers and onions:
Rinse them in cold water and place in a greased skillet. Season them with salt and black pepper and cook in medium heat until tender; add a few drops of olive oil if needed and be aware of not burning them.
Risotto cannot be rushed and forgotten. You don’t have to stir it constantly, but you have to stir it and once liquid is added you have to wait for the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. The secret to the creaminess and the al dente feel comes with the addition of the stock. So patience is needed at the time of adding the stock. Risotto tenderness is what makes a risotto so even if you don’t like food cook al dente the rice has to have at least a little bit of that al dente mouth feel. And it has to be creamy. So butter and cheese are not negotiable, a good risotto needs both to be good. Risotto absorbs liquid quickly so serve it immediately.
This post is also available in: Spanish