If you grow nothing else in your life, grow yourself an herb garden. Of all the things that our whole garden can grow, I think the herbs are the most fulfilling to me. There’s just nothing like needing a bit of parsley or basil and being able to just step out the back door and snip it. Need some thyme for your chicken? Snip it! Rosemary for your potatoes? Snip it! Sage for your mushroom risotto? Don’t make me say it again …
If you’ve never made risotto, don’t be afraid. Don’t succumb to the rumors that risotto is terribly challenging or takes a million years to cook. It hardly takes longer than cooking rice the regular way, except it is much, much, tastier and requires a bit more care. Even so, it is not hard to do, especially if you are organized and have all your ingredients ready to go. I quite enjoy making risotto; the slow stirring and gradual addition of stock and wine – there’s something meditative about it. Just get zen with your rice! Let it do the work!
This recipe capitalizes on both fresh and dried sage. The dried has that musky, earthy “turkey” smell and taste to it which makes for a great bass note with the browned onions and mushrooms. The fresh sage has a bright, rich taste to it that chirps along with the white wine, building more and more layers of flavors within the dish. If you really want to add some depth, add some dried wild (and re-hydrated) mushrooms to the mix.
Or just make it as is. Wasn’t I just saying that risotto shouldn’t stress you out?
Sage and Mushroom Risotto
This risotto doesn’t take terribly long and has a simple list of earthy, rich ingredients. Made without cream, the only true indulgence is the cheese, which you can pare back if so desired. This dish combines beautifully with Bacon Wrapped Tomatoes .
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Cup arborio rice (or other short grain Italian rice)
1 medium red onion, diced
1 lb mushrooms, chopped (button, cremini, or whatever you have on hand or like best)
½ tsp dried sage
½ tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves (about 8 large leaves)
4 C hot chicken or vegetable stock
1 C dry white wine
1 C finely grated Parmesan cheese
Prepare your onion, mushrooms, herbs and cheese, set aside. In a medium sized pot, heat the stock until it is almost simmering. Have a ladle on hand so you can easily add it to the rice later.
In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium, heat the olive oil until it begins to shimmer but does not smoke. Add the rice, all at once, stirring immediately. Cook the rice until it becomes fully opaque, but not browned, about 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the onion and mushrooms, continue cooking, stirring regularly until the mushrooms are browned and the onion is fully cooked through. De-glaze with the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to just below medium. The wine will quickly cook into the rice. Add the salt and dried sage. As the rice mixture begins to ‘dry’, add a ladle of hot stock. Allow the stock to be fully absorbed before you add another ladle. Stir often to agitate the rice and encourage its starch to mix into the stock. Repeat until the stock is gone and the rice is firm but fully cooked. The rice should be creamy and fluid. If it seems dry or thick, add a bit more stock or water until the right consistency is achieved. Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the cheese and fresh sage. Serve immediately.