There are going to be a lot of risotto posts on this blog, as I simply adore the stuff. Risotto makes a terrific side dish for fish or meat, though it usually steals the show, or it’s fantastic on it’s own as a main course. Company is always impressed with risotto, which has a rap for being much harder to make than it really is. And it’s so much fun to pull seasonal produce together into an incredible risotto dish, and I have many winning combos for every season.
This risotto departs somewhat from a more traditional risotto in that I’ve used red wine verses white. Because I’m serving the risotto with steak, and we drink red when we have red meat, it works and adds beautiful subtle red, almost purplish color with the radicchio. The red wine, portabellas and radicchio all complement each other well. Radicchio can have a slightly bitter bite, which cuts through the meat nicely. If you’re not a huge fan of the peppery-bitter such as arugula or watercress for example, you could try reducing and sweetening some balsamic vinegar and drizzling that over. In fact, I think I’ll try that next time I make this just for kicks, even though I quite like the taste of radicchio.
A few things to keep in mind about risotto if you’re making it for the first time:
- Risotto should be served immediately after it’s done cooking. If allowed to sit, it can congeal and become somewhat gummy or overcook from residual heat and become mushy. This is why it’s often tricky for restaurants to serve it – it can be done ahead only to a certain point and then must be cooked to order.
- Risotto will take roughly 22 minutes to become al dente once the first liquids are added.
- You do NOT need to constantly stir it. But you can’t exactly leave it on the stove and go off to surf the web either. Stay in kitchen while it’s cooking and give it a good couple of stirs using a wooden spoon every couple of minutes.
- You want to add warm broth so that the grains actually cook – have your broth on a back-burner already warm (not boiling) before you start the risotto.
- There are generally three types of risotto rice widely available in the U.S. – Arborio, Vialone Nano, and Carnaroli and all are short grain varieties. In my experience, Arborio is the most widely available and a perfectly good choice, though it doesn’t hold liquid quite as well as some of the others. I favor Carnaroli because the grains are larger and hold their shape better than Arborio, giving the final dish better texture. Vialone Nano is the preferred rice of the Veneto region (where Venice is), and it can hold nearly twice it’s weight in liquid, producing a very creamy dish. I have yet to try this kind but fully intend to do so soon! I know they sell it at Fairway (they have everything at Fairway).
- When you first add risotto to the pot, you want to toast it with the olive oil and onion for a minute or two to deepen the flavor before adding liquids.
- The final, and perhaps most signature step of cooking risotto is called the ‘Mantecatura,’ in which cold butter and grated parmesan cheese are vigorously stirred in, to bind the risotto and create the creamy texture you want. Absolutely do not skip this step.
Red wine, radicchio, portobello risotto with flank steak
- 1 lb portabella mushrooms, cleaned, dried and chopped
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups risotto rice, preferably carnaroli, arborio, or vialone nano
- 5-6 cups chicken broth
- 1 small head radicchio, sliced thinly
- 2-3 Tbs butter
- 3/4 – 1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
- 1 Flank Steak, patted dry, seasoned w salt and pepper, and grilled 5-6 minutes per side. Allow to rest 10-15 minutes before slicing (against the grain) and serving.
1. Warm 2 Tbs olive oil in saute pan. Add mushrooms, in batches if necessary, season with salt, and cook until mushrooms are browned and released liquid has evaporated. Set aside.
2. Sweat onion in dutch oven or other large, deep cooking vessel in olive oil over medium heat until softened, 5-6 minutes. Season lightly with salt.
2. Add risotto and toast, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes. Do not allow pot to scorch.
3. Add wine and stir.
4. When wine has been absorbed, begin adding warmed broth one ladleful at a time, adding more only once the previous ladleful has been absorbed. This process should take roughly 22 minutes. If you think you may run short on broth, add some water to the broth. Check for doneness after about 18 minutes, checking each minute thereafter. The rice is al dente when there is just a tiny speck of white in the center of each grain, and its creamy but still has some resistance or bite to it.
5. Stir in the radicchio and mushrooms; the radicchio will wilt immediately. Take the rice off the heat source.
6. Add the butter and grated parm and stir vigorously. Taste and add additional salt to your liking.
Serve with sliced flank steak and a green salad.
Makes 4 main course servings