While it is not really mushroom season and I definitely prefer using fresh produce, you can still make a good risotto with good frozen mushrooms too. Or the selection you may find at the supermarket. A risotto is a great weekend dinner for two, but can easily feed a crowd too.
It takes a little bit of time to make if you want to do it properly, but it is definitely worth the wait. And there is no major difference in time if you make it for 2 or 10 people. It is also one of those meals that you can easily change the flavor profile of, just by swapping out some of the ingredients. You can make it lighter by using a lighter style cheese and seafood as topping or a bit more wholesome with bacon, a good sausage or similar.
If you are careful with the salt and type of cheese used, it can be made fairly child friendly too. I have made a variety where I used cheddar cheese and sausage as topping. And, without wine. Even if the alcohol evaporates it leaves a bit of flavor to the risotto, which kids seem to dislike. But the variety with a mild cheese and sausage was a big hit with my oldest.
Recipe for 2 people:
200 grams Arborio rice
2 tbsp good cooking oil
2 tbsp good butter
500 ml stock (I normally use vegetable or chicken stock)
200-300 ml white wine
1 red onion
100 grams gruyere
300 grams mixed mushrooms
200 grams good sausage or bacon
Chop the onion finely. Melt the butter and oil in a cast iron pot (preferably an enameled type so it doesn’t stick easily) and add the chopped onion. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the rice. Let the rice simmer in the butter, oil and onion mix for 5 minutes on medium heat.
Stir regularly to avoid it sticking and burning. Add the liquid in portions of approximately 50 ml per pour. Let it simmer and stir gently. Allow the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more.
When you have approximately 100 ml liquid left, warm a saucepan, chop the mushrooms into large bits and cut the sausage into dice sized bits. Cook on high heat for a couple of minutes until golden.
Grate the cheese finely and add to the risotto. Fold it in.
Plate up by putting the risotto on two plates and then put the mushroom and sausage mix on top.
Sprinkle a little bit of finely grated cheese om top and serve.
You can use red wine to make risotto too, but it will give a very different flavor profile, so be careful with the choice of cheese then. A blue cheese can work well with red wine risotto.
A typical risotto recipe is made with Parmesan, but cheddar, Gruyere, Comte or similar hard cheeses work very well too. Just adjust the amount a little according to how strong the flavor of the cheese is.
A nice focaccia makes a good side for a risotto, but it is quite a heavy and wholesome meal by itself.