Sandro's Risotto Alla Shitake

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“A Signature Dish By Sandro V. Cuccia... Being a native-born Italian, one of my favorite pastimes is traveling and eating in Italy! I am from the north, where rice dishes are legendary. In Italian, rice is “riso,” but a rice dish is called “risotto.” The rice typically used for the risotto is the starchy, short-grained rice called “Arborio,” which is very easy to find in most supermarkets. In fact, Arborio rice is now grown in Texas! Arborio gives the risotto its distinctive creamy consistency, but the secret is really in the proper cooking technique – and the major ingredient is patience! There are hundreds of ways to prepare a risotto dish. The following represents my signature recipe in which I use one of my favorite ingredients – the Shitake mushroom – grown right where I live in New Garden, Pennsylvania. I call my recipe Shitake Risotto alla Sandro.”

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Clean the mushrooms and separate the caps from the stems. Slice the caps. Discard the stems (Shitake stems are too woody). In a small frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add 1 tablespoon butter, and sauté the sliced mushroom caps over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, but they must remain “al dente.” When cooked, add salt and pepper to taste and set aside with the juice.
  2. In a separate saucepan, heat the broth to boiling, then reduce to simmer. Prepare the “soffritto”: heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, add 2 tablespoons butter, and sauté the chopped onion over medium/high heat until onion is translucent. Stir in the rice, and make sure all is coated with the sauté mixture. Stir about 1 minute. Add the wine and allow it to be absorbed completely, otherwise a “whiney” taste remains.
  3. Start by adding in 2 ladlefuls of the simmering broth to the rice mixture. Keep stirring until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding one ladleful at a time, stirring and waiting for the broth to be absorbed. Only add more broth when the rice has absorbed what is in the pan. Never add too much at one time – the rice should never look soaked. It should be halfway between wet and dry, but never soupy; otherwise, the rice boils and it won’t absorb the taste of the other ingredients. Continue this process for about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir continuously, and adjust the heat as you cook. It should be low enough so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan, but high enough so that everything is bubbling in a lively way. Ten minutes into this process, add the mushrooms and their juice.
  4. The risotto is done when the center of the rice is slightly firm and not bright white.
  5. Turn off the heat, and add 3 tablespoons of butter and 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano cheese, then the light cream. Stir well. This critical point is called “la mantecatura” where the risotto develops its legendary creamy consistency.
  6. Risotto must be served immediately. Garnish with chopped parsley.

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