This is a story about making mushroom risotto in just 30 minutes. With intermissions. A lot of them. It’s a comedy, of sorts. And a bit of a tragedy.
Me (husband, dad, man with a pan): What do you want for lunch?
Kristen (wife, mother, self-professed picky eater): Dunno.
Me: Hmmm… how about a salad?
K: It’s too cold for salad. But definitely something vegetarian. We haven’t had vegetables lately.
Me: We had eggplant pasta last night.
K: There were little bits of eggplant. More veggies please.
Me: How about those nice chanterelles we got the other day? Pasta with chanterelles?
K: More pasta?
Me: OK… Let’s see. How about risotto with chanterelles?
K: Yum! Can you make it fast, though? The baby’s gonna wake up soon.
Me (already sharpening my knife): I can make it in half an hour.
Within minutes, I’ve got my chanterelles sliced, my shallots minced and all of it sizzling in my Le Creuset. Next, the rice. It needs to brown before adding broth.
K: You hear that?
Me: Ugh, it’s the baby. He’s awake.
K: He’s got impeccable timing. He’s going to be hungry. Can you feed him?
Me: What about the risotto?
K: It can wait.
K: Baby comes first.
Me (leaving the stove): Alright, alright.
For the next 30 minutes, the baby happily makes a ginormous mess of things, a puree of carrot, avocado and brown rice on his face, on the chair, on me. Meanwhile, the risotto is off the burner, getting lumpy.
Me (back at the stove): I think I can save this. Just need more broth.
K: Honey, I think he’s got a diaper.
K: Can you change him?
Me (leaving the stove): Ugh.
Another round of fussing with the baby, a new diaper, and a new change of clothes on account of the feeding. Meanwhile, the risotto sits, and sits.
Me: (back at the stove): This looks terrible. The rice is soggy. It’s ruined!
K: I’ll eat it anyway. I’m starving.
Me: Can we feed it to the baby instead?
K: (No response)
In the end, the dish didn’t quite turn out as badly as it looked. Nothing a little more broth and a hefty shaving of Parmesan couldn’t fix. When we finally sat down to eat, we popped a bottle of Champagne just because we had it in the fridge. Actually, it was Prosecco – an Italian sparkling wine for our Italian lunch. Here’s to life – and cooking – with a baby.
Recipe: Mushroom risotto (adapted from John Gottfried of Gourmet Garage, via Saveur)
Yes, you can make this dish in 30 minutes flat – sans baby. Perhaps because it’s a quick-cooking risotto, this wasn’t quite as creamy as others we’ve tasted before. Really, it’s a small price to pay. Go heavy on the cheese to compensate.
3 cups chicken stock (we found you need slightly more stock, maybe 4 cups)
4 tablespoon high-quality salted butter
2 minced, peeled shallots
4 cups cleaned chanterelles, sliced thinly
(we added some crimini mushrooms as well; feel free to use regular brown mushrooms, which are much cheaper than chanterelles but not as flavorful)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup short-grain rice like arborio
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
Small bunch of chives, minced (for garnish, optional)
Bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low to maintain simmer.
Melt 2 tablespoon butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook for about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then transfer to a bowl.
Melt remaining butter in the same pot over medium heat, add rice, and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the hot stock and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is almost absorbed. Keep adding stock, about 3/4 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until rice is tender but firm to the bite and mixture is creamy (but not soupy), about 25 minutes. Add mushrooms just before using the last of the stock. Stir in cheese, adjust seasonings, garnish with chives, and serve immediately.
Serves 2 hungry adults, or 4 with a salad.