Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper and Mushroom Risotto

Last night was my first attempt at making risotto. I must say, that I have been wanting to make it since a friend came over and made a super tasty carrot risotto one night.
Anyways, after buying a pound of arborio rice, just enough to try it out, I immediately set out in search of the perfect risotto recipe. Something that would be flavorful and creamy.
I introduce you to: the original recipe.
I did stray....quite a bit...from the original. Partially because I didn't have all of the ingredients. Partially because I wanted to make sure some other flavors played a part. And partially because I seem to ALWAYS change up a recipe- even on the first time around. :)
So the journey begins with all of the prep work. I adore having everything I need sitting out, waiting it's turn. I also am a big fan of cleaning as I go. I really value all of my coutner space, and for some reason it's easier for me to work when it's all nice and cleaned up.
First, get all of the liquid that you will be adding to the rice ready. This includes half of a 12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers. (The original recipe called for all of it- but I didn't want the flavor to be too strong, and I also wanted to use the other half for something else later.)
Put the red bell and some of the liquid from the jar in the food processor and give it a blitz until it is all chopped up. You want to see pieces of the pepper, but not get a huge bite. Add that to a medium sized pot.
Also into the pot goes a can of chicken broth plus about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of water.
Next step in the food prep is to dice one onion. Put that in a large pan and let it wait for you.
Back to the food processor. Chop up a carrot and a half and put that in the processor along with 2 cloves of garlic. Blitz it until it's all nice and fine. Not mush. Just fine. Then add that to the onion in the pan. The carrots add a nice sweetness to the dish. Something that I realized when my friend made his carrot risotto, and part of what won me over with this recipe.
Now add a couple handfuls of chopped mushrooms. White button mushrooms would be good. I happened to have baby bellas. Next, pour in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and cook on medium low/low for 20-30 minutes until the onions turn translucent and begin to caramelize. Stir it around occasionally so it doesn't stick or develop hot spots. This is called sweating. You may need to add a couple tbl of water at some point if the mixture dries out too fast on you. We don't want to burn the veggies on high heat, just get all of those lovely flavors to emerge on a lower setting. Yum.
Once they have all caramelized a bit, turn that pot with your stock and red pepper onto medium. We don't want to boil it, just get it nice and hot. I didn't even bring mine to a simmer, just kept it hot. Once it was hot, I turned the stove down a bit so it wouldn't boil.
Okay, here is where the real fun begins. Add 4 tbl of butter to your veggies. Once it has all melted, add 1 1/2 cup sof arborio rice. No, not regular long grain white rice. Arborio. There just isn't any substituting for this starchy grain.
Stir the rice around (still on that med low/low heat) for a minute or two until each grain is coated in buttery goodness. Now you can begin adding in that tasty broth one cup at a time.
Once a cup (I used a ladle that I think is just under a cup) has been added, stir it all around until the liquid has been absorbed. The stirring is supposed to help release the starch from the rice, thus creating a creamy texture.
And repeat. Keep going, adding a cup of your broth and stirring until it is all soaked up by the rice. About half way thru the pan of broth, start tasting your rice right BEFORE adding more liquid to see if it's done.
What's done? The rice should have a bit of a bite. Al dente. It should not be crunchy.
I ended up using all of my liquid up, but you may need more, you may need less. There is really no telling until you try.
Here is where you can add in some seasonings if you wish. Pepper is always a favorite. Lots of people like grated parmesan on their risotto (which adds a salty flavor, also). I stuck with pepper and some salt. I don't like parmesan. Don't hate.

The recipe was a total success. My wrist was getting tired of the stirring by the end, but of was it worth it. This recipe makes a great side dish, and makes a lot. The beauty of it is that I have leftovers! Yay!

Roasted Red Pepper and Mushroom Risotto

2 tbl. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 handfuls of slices mushrooms (white button, baby bellas, whatever you like)
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 carrots, chopped into 1 inch pieces
4 tbl unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
1/2 of a 12oz jar of roasted red peppers
1 14oz can chicken stock (I prefer low sodium)
2 1/2 - 3 c. water
salt, pepper, parmesan

First, puree the roasted red pepper in some of its juices until it's in small pieces. Pour into a medium sized pot and add the chicken stock and water.
Rinse out the food processor and add the carrot and garlic. Blitz until its chopped up fine. Put carrot mixture into a large frying pan. Add onion and mushrooms to the pan along with the olive oil.
Cook the veggies on med low/low heat for 20-30 minutes until the onions turn translucent and begin to caramelize. Don't try to rush it, you'll burn those small pieces of carrot and garlic! Add some water if it begins to dry out before it's caramelized.
Torwards the end of the caramelizing, turn the heat on under the pot of stock to medium. Get the liquid nice and hot, but not to a boil. A simmer would be fine. Turn down the heat as necessary to keep from boiling.
Once the veggies are caramelized, add the butter and let it melt. Once melted, add the rice and stir around for a minute or two until each grain is coated in the buttery mixture.
Now begin adding the hot stock mixture to the rice mixture one cup at a time. Make sure to keep stirring the rice and veggies around to help that arborio rice release starch. Do not add more liquid until all of the previous liquid has been absorbed.
About half way through the broth, start testing the rice for proper texture right before you would add more liquid. The rice should be al dente, but not crunchy.
Add in desired seasonings. Pepper is great, and a lot of people like parmesan.

This recipe is linked up with:
With the "Anything Goes" theme, my recipe has been added to May's Side Dish Showdown


  1. YUM.

    I LOVE risotto! I almost never follow recipes. I use them more as inspiration than anything!
    YUM YUM!!!

  2. This looks excellent! Not a mushroom fan but I love roasted red peppers. I just roasted some tonight for a sauce!

  3. This looks delish! I've just recently heard that risotto is beautifully made in a pressure cooker. Anyone tried that? I'll give it a try with your recipe soon. Thanks...

  4. Your first attempt was a success! It looks totally delicious - love the flavors you added. It's a great addition to the Showdown! Thanks for sending it over.

  5. This looks so very good! What flavors! Thanks for linking up to Tuesday Tastes! I love having you! If you get a chance, come back and use the poll in the side bar to cast your vote for the People's Choice Award!

    Happy Day,
    Jasey @ Crazy Daisy


  6. What a beutiful combo for a risotto. I too entered a risotto for the SDS challenge this month ;D
    I'll be giving yours a try the next time I make a risotto.

  7. This is a beautiful risotto! I would never have guessed that it was your first one. Great dish!