Month of January: “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking: Recipe: Risotto with mushroom

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” W.B. Yeats

Patience has never been one of my virtues. I have been told this more than once. Risotto takes patience. Unlike basmati rice or any other grain where water is added to the pot and is left to simmer quietly on its own; risotto requires attention and action. A small amount of hot liquid is stirred into the risotto until the liquid evaporates. Then more is added in stages until it becomes tender and creamy. It’s one of those things, like a pudding where you just have to commit to stirring, stirring and more stirring.

My grief for Abby these days is kind of like cooking grains. Some days it quietly simmers and some days it needs stirring. Regardless, it is still quite present within this vessel and tonight I am impatient with it. I wonder how long this will be? Damn it’s been going on for a long time!! I feel lonely for her voice so many days. Still wanting to pick up the phone and call or shoot an email, anxiously waiting to not only share my inner world but to hear hers. Now all I hear is silence and the most annoying ringing in my ear.

It’s January, it’s dark, it’s cold and the inner landscape is ripe for this kind of stirring, stirring, stirring. Deep breath, deep breath. “Be patient Rebecca, be patient. You are sharpening your senses.”

Ingredients: 5 cups basic homemade meat broth or 1 cup canned beef broth diluted with 4 cups of water, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion, 2 cups Arborio rice, 1 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms or small amount of fresh (I used shitake), black pepper, 1/3 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese, salt.

  1. Bring broth to a simmer in a pan.
  2. Put tablespoon of butter and chopped onion into a broad sturdy pot and turn on heat to medium high. Cook and stir the onion until it becomes translucent, then add the rice. Stir quickly until the grains are coated well.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and cook, stirring constantly until all the liquid evaporates. Keep doing this 1/2 cup at a time for 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms. Stir. Keep adding the liquid 1/2 cup at a time and stirring until all the liquid evaporates. It should take about 20 minutes. Taste the rice. It should be tender but firm. When finished, add few grindings of black pepper, another tablespoon of butter and the cheese. Stir to mix well, taste for salt. Add to a platter and serve with additional cheese on the side and minced parsley.

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