This past Saturday my brother and his wife came up to spend the weekend. The plan was for them to arrive in time for dinner on Saturday and then they and I would head out and hit one of the local haunted houses for a good scare. The wife opted to stay home and take care of our daughter. She may love a good scary movie, but haunted houses, with all the loud noises and people jumping out, at her, just isn’t her idea of a fun time. The weather was cool, bordering on cold and just a little rainy so I was looking to make something that was warming, soul satisfying, but not overly heavy. I wasn’t in the mood for soup or chili and stew seemed a little too heavy when I remembered that it had been awhile since I had made risotto. Served with pan roasted chicken breast, it would be the perfect dish for the night; warm and comforting, yet it wouldn’t weigh us down as we ducked ghouls and ghosts and ran from bloodthirsty serial killers. Since it is Autumn, I decided to garnish the risotto with mushrooms and fresh sage, which also made a wonderful compliment to the simply pan roasted chicken breasts.

Mushroom Risotto

6 ounces Mushrooms (use a few varieties. I used white, shiitake and portobello mushrooms)
1 each Shallot, minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 1/4 cups Arborio rice (or other Italian rice normally used for risotto such as Carnaroli)
1/4 cup White Wine
4 cups Chicken Stock
2 tsp. Fresh Sage, minced
2 Tbsp. Fresh Chives, minced
4 Tbsp. Butter
1/4-1/3 cup Parmesan, grated

Bring chicken broth to a boil, reduce heat and allow to stay at a simmer. Meanwhile heat a large pot over high heat and add 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and saute until golden brown. Add shallots and garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add remaining olive oil, then the rice. Stir until the rice is coated with oil then add the wine. Stir the rice and cook until the wine is full absorbed. Turn heat down to medium high. Add about 1/2 cup of the stock and cook until absorbed, stirring the entire time. Add another 1/2 cup of stock, stirring and cooking until absorbed. Don’t stop stirring the risotto. The stirring is the key to a good, creamy risotto. Continue this process until the rice is al dente. Don’t over cook the rice or it will be too mushy. It may not take quite all the stock or it might take just a little more than the 4 cups depending on the rice and will take about 18 minutes to cook. Add the sage about 1/2 way through the cooking process. When done remove from heat and stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese. Check the seasoning and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Have everything else, that you are serving, ready as risotto does not like to sit around and will continue to cook and get mushy if not served right away. When serving garnish with the fresh chives. This makes enough risotto for 4 generous side dishes.