This was my seduction dinner back in my student days. The theory, I recall, was that I would charm them with cocktail wit while conjuring earth mother images by stirring this dish for forty-five minutes. Mixed marketing message. Sadly, none of the subjects fell for it, but at least they liked the rice.
Serves 2 greedy people
1 medium red onion
2 cloves garlic
8 cups good chicken stock (I make mine with roast chicken carcass, or giblety-things, simmered with sliced celery, carrot, onion, a handful of whole peppercorns, salt, and a bay leaf).
1 cup dry white wine (maybe you could use wine vinegar)
1 ½ to 2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dried porcini, morels, shitake etc., and/or as many fresh forest mushrooms as you care for. Strain and keep the soaking liquid from dried mushrooms.
1 cup Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
Salt and pepper
Light-bodied Italian red wine for the cook
In a wide, heavy-bottomed pan, sautée the onions and garlic in butter over medium heat until slightly softened (2-5 minutes). Add the rice and stir until grains are lightly coated and shiny. Turn the heat up and add the wine: let it sizzle until the alcohol burns off. The rice will start to absorb the liquid.
Back on a low to medium heat, add the chicken stock one ladle at a time. Stir constantly as the rice absorbs the stock (though you will probably find the time to make a green salad and dressing if you like). Add the mushrooms about halfway through cooking. When you run out of stock, use the liquid from the dried mushrooms. Continue cooking until the rice releases its starch and becomes gloopy, but the grains are still _al dente_. Turn off the heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese, add salt if you like and plenty of fresh pepper. Stir in extra butter if you’re as gluttonous as I am.
Serve immediately: unlike seduction techniques, risotto does not improve with age.