Actually, the only thing southern about this risotto was the cook and the Arkansas grown arborial rice. If you read the cookbooks and listen to the Italians, you would think they were the only rice growers in the world, but I’m tellin’ y’all that the Arkansas arborial is the real thing. If you’ve never cooked a risotto, try this:
½ cup onion (minced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 to 1.5 cup shiitake mushroom sliced about ¼ “
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1.5 cups short grain risotto rice, unwashed (I used Arborial grown in Arkansas)
1 cup dry white wine (warm)
4 cups chicken stock (heated)
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 to 1/2 cup good parmesan reggiano
Warm the chicken stock in a sauce pan. Gently saute the onion and garlic with EVO in a sauté pan that has a lid (for later). After a couple of minutes, add the mushrooms and cook until they have soaked up some EVO but are still firm. Remove the aromatics and mushrooms and set aside, leaving as much oil and good stuff in the pan as possible. Turning the heat down to medium for the remainder of the dish, add the rice and stir until well coated. Don’t brown the rice but cook until well coated with oil and starting to clear (6 to 8 minutes)…stirring often.
De-glaze the pan by pouring warm (NOT COLD) white wine into the pan and reducing until almost all the liquid is gone, stirring often. Repeat this step 4 more times (1 cup at a time) using the warmed chicken stock, each time reducing until almost gone and stirring often. With the last cup of stock add mushrooms and aromatics back to the pan. After reducing the last cup of stock, the rice should be done or at least al dente (almost done but still firm to the tooth). Add butter and parmesan to help the starch along with a creamy finish. Taste and season if needed, but usually the stock, cheese and butter have added all the salt needed. If al dente, remove from heat and cover until ready to serve and it will finish in the pan, otherwise serve it up in a simple, flat bowl. Remember the final texture should be creamy and a little moist but still firm, not flowing on the plate. Enjoy!