If you've never tried risotto, you need to. Just trust me on this. Risotto is Italian in origin, and is in fact the most popular way to cook rice in Italy. One taste, and you'll know why. Though risotto is made traditionally with white rice, it's even better (and healthier) when made with brown.
One important factor to note: this is a time-consuming dish that will demand quite a bit of attention. If you have children, this isn't going to be a good one for a school night, because it demands at least an hour of your attention. With that being said, it's not at all difficult...just time consuming, so don't be intimidated!
Neither of my taste-testers had eaten risotto before, and though they made comments while I was cooking to the effect of "How good can it be, it's just rice." and "When will this ever be done?", they changed their tune with remarkable speed when they tasted their first bite. Risotto is creamy, rich, and delicious. It's a comfort food in the purest form of the word, leaving you with a warm, full feeling. I recommend tasting it as you go to adjust for seasoning.
I pared this recipe with onion-garlic chicken and the most heavenly mushroom cream sauce I've ever made in my life...the taste-testers couldn't stop talking about it. It was probably the best meal I've ever made! Both of those recipes are to come...but for now...
Brown Rice Mushroom Risotto
recipe adapted from SugarLaws.
2 T olive oil
2 cups short-grain brown rice
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4-6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 lb. mushrooms (baby portobello or shitake)
Sal and pepper to taste
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup grated Parmesan
1. In a large skillet over medium heat, toast rice in olive oil. Stir constantly until all grains are coated in olive oil, then add shallot and garlic. Toast until aromatic, then add one cup of stock, or enough to just cover rice. Turn heat down to a simmer.
2. Stir very frequently, waiting until stock is almost entirely absorbed before adding another cup. Continue this process for about an hour, waiting about 40 minutes before adding the mushrooms. Taste the rice often, adjusting salt and pepper as necessary. Risotto is done when rice is tender yet still nutty in flavor.