Years ago, an ex-boyfriend decided to make an extravagant risotto for a family dinner. He fancied himself quite a good cook, but he’d never made it before and decided that the direction to use arborio rice was simply a suggestion, not a direction…so he used regular old white rice instead.
As you can imagine, the result (which involved all kinds of expensive ingredients like veal broth and asparagus) was a disaster. The worst part was that he made a huge amount of the stuff because it was a big family party. And he insisted on taking the big mushy mess to the party…to the great horror of his (very proper) older sister, who was hosting the party at her very fancy home.
To her great credit, she actually served the dish, which was bypassed at the buffet table by every single person there, except me, who plunked a rather large spoonful of the gelatinous mess onto my plate in an attempt at solidarity with the boyfriend.
Imagine my outrage and sense of betrayal when I noticed the boyfriend steered clear of his own culinary disaster! The nerve!!
All of this may explain the seeds of my disgust with the dish that everyone else seems to love: risotto.
I’ve always imagined, however, that there would come a day when I would learn to like risotto (and no longer associate the dish with outrage and disgust!).
Well, today is that day, my friend!
I first wanted to find out why arborio rice is essential to the risotto-making process.
As it turns out, arborio contains a specific ratio of the two starches that constitute rice. Here’s an explanation from Cook’s Illustrated:
Varieties of rice are roughly grouped as long grain, medium grain, or short grain according to their cooked length and width. Long-grain rice is about four times as long as it is wide, medium grain is twice as long, and short grain is almost round. The manner in which they cook is largely defined by the ratio of two starches that (in part) constitute rice: amylose and amylopectin. The former does not break down (gelatinize) when heated; the latter does. Rice with a high percentage of amylose, then, is long, firm, and discrete when cooked; rice with a lower percentage (and thus more amylopectin) is shorter and starchy, or “sticky.” For comparison’s sake, long-grain rice contains between 23 and 26 percent amylose, and medium-grain rice contains between 18 and 26 percent amylose.
Arborio rice, the classic choice for risotto, contains roughly 19 to 21 percent amylose. However, that is not the only difference. The desirable “bite” in risotto is due to a defect in Arborio rice called chalk. During maturation, the starch structures at the grain’s core deform, making for a firm, toothy center when cooked.
Next, I watched dozens of videos on the risotto-making process and then combined a few and came up with this recipe….AND IT IS SO DAMN GOOD!!! The risotto isn’t mushy AT ALL. The tastes are amazing–I can taste the wine and mushrooms, it’s nice and creamy, and each little piece of rice is distinct (unlike that mushy stuff you often get in restaurants)!!
So here goes!!
Mushroom Risotto in the Instant Pot
Saute in a small pan on the stove top (with a bit of vegan butter) and set aside:
- 1.5 cups Portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 1.5 cups cremini or white button mushrooms, sliced
Turn the Instant Pot onto “Saute” and melt…
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp vegan butter
Add and saute until translucent…
- 1 cup finely chopped white onion
Add and saute for another minute…
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
Add and toast (really toss it around for a few minutes until it toasts: the rice should first turn translucent at the ends and then white again)…
- 1.5 cups arborio rice
Add the sauteed mushrooms from STEP 1, stir and then add and stir until the wine has mostly evaporated/been absorbed:
- 1/2 cup white wine
Whisk together and add…
- 3 cups vegetable scrap broth
- 1 TBS Better Than Bouillon vegetable base (or mushroom base if you have it!).
Stir it all, put the lid on (and make sure it’s in the sealing position). Hit “Manual” and set to five minutes on high pressure. Once it beeps, do a controlled quick release (in spurts, rather than one long blast). Open the lid (away from you!!), give it a good stir, and stir in…
- 1 TBS lemon juice
- freshly ground pepper
Mmmmm…..just look at that bowl of deliciousness! I’m making this for dinner, but I just had to try a little bowl in advance because it smelled so damn good….and it is!!!
And here’s dinner: marinated grilled tofu, mushroom risotto, and grilled green beans.
Holy crap….was this ever a good dinner!!!!
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