Whether I'm looking for the ultimate comfort dish or to entertain a group, risotto is one of my favorite things to make because of it's versatility.
Ask anyone that knows me and they will tell you Italian food is one of my favorites. So when I found out I'd be traveling to Milan, Italy, as a coach this past October for the International Federation of Pasty, Gelato and Chocolate's Cake Designer World Championships, my taste buds were jumping for joy!
Espresso, gelato, pastries, gnocchi, wine and RISOTTO, oh lord help me! I felt like I'd won the culinary jackpot. I remember the first Risotto dish I ordered while there. The menu wasn't very detailed in describing the dish it just said "Shrimp Risotto". Pretty straight forward I thought. However, when the dish arrived there was a crustacean with a big eyeball looking up at me from the plate its tentacles all spread out.
I was slightly startled when I saw it and then giggled. Yep, that is a shrimp all right I thought! Not only that, but it was the only shrimp in the dish. The risotto was delicious nonetheless!
When I make my risotto, shrimp and mushrooms usually take center stage. I always use raw shrimp or prawns (with no heads or tails on!!) in my risotto. I don't care for small shrimp, I like the larger shrimp or prawns you can find at the market.
The key to a really good risotto is to make sure the broth you are using is warm. I also use white wine in my recipe...just whatever I happen to have open in the fridge. As for the mushrooms, I use baby portobello mushrooms. I like how firm they are, and the meaty texture they offer to the dish.
I also like to use more than one cheese in the dish and for finishing. I usually use a blend of Asiago, Parmesan and Romano. I buy it in blocks and throw them in the food processor so I get my own blend. You can also make cheese crisps with this blend and they are delicious. Just pile some of the shredded cheese on a silpat and bake them up. The cheese crisp looks really nice next to the risotto or as a garnish on a side salad.
Anyway you make it, I guarantee it will be delicious!
Full recipe for my mushroom risotto can be found here: Mushroom Risotto