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Well guys, this is it. This is the pinnacle of my culinary life. I know I shouldn't hype it up so much, as typically things with such high expectations are inevitably a let-down, but seriously. This is so good it's ridiculous. I always know I knocked one out of the park when my husband takes a bite and gets that smirk. It's usually followed by some comment along the lines of "we'd have to pay $30 for this at a restaurant...". I gladly accept the compliment and throw in the reminder that sometimes it's just nice to have someone else serve your food and clean up after you. But I digress...
Two components make up this crazy flavorful and filling dish. We served it alone as our main course and were absolutely stuffed and totally satisfied. I don't know which is better, the caramelized mushrooms and onions with a hint of balsamic vinegar, or the creamy risotto with the smallest bit of velvety cream cheese running throughout. I won't choose, you can't make me.
A lot of people refuse to attempt risotto because it seems complex and quite frankly takes more time than it seem could possibly be worth it. I'm here to tell you that it's actually much easier than you think, and although you do have to tend to hit constantly for a good 30-45 minutes, the end product is so worth it. The creamy and intensely flavorful outcome is achieved by adding small amounts of liquid to the rice and stirring constantly until absorbed. Repeat until done. It's that simple.
5 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. (1 stick of butter)
1 large yellow onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
16 oz baby bella mushrooms - quartered
2 t. lemon juice
4 sprigs of thyme - leaves removed from stems
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
1 T. cream cheese
splash of balsamic vinegar
freshly grated parmesan cheese for topping
Heat chicken broth in a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. Once at a simmer turn to a low simmer to keep warm.
Heat a large non-stick pan and a 3-qt (or very large pan with high sides) sauté pan over medium heat. Melt 4 T. of butter in each. Add half of the diced onion to each pan. Cook for a two to three minutes or until softened. Add 1 clove of minced garlic to each pan. Stir and cook 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms to the non-stick pan, stir to combine. Add the rice to the large sauté pan stir to combine. Cook an additional two minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the lemon juice and thyme to the mushrooms, stir to combine and cook over medium heat for however long the risotto takes (usually 30-45 minutes). If mushrooms start to get too crispy/start to burn, reduce heat to low or turn off heat completely.
Using a 1 c. measuring cup or coffee mug, add warmed chicken broth to the rice about a 3/4 - 1 cup at a time. After you add a cup of broth, stir continuously until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Then add another cup of broth, continue to stir until absorbed and repeat until broth is gone and rice is cooked to al dente. This process will likely take 30 - 45 minutes. Once rice is cooked, add the cream cheese and stir until melted and evenly distributed. Turn off the heat.
When risotto is ready add a splash of balsamic vinegar to the mushrooms, stir and let cook down another minute or so. Turn off heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve mushrooms over risotto and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Time: 1 hour