One-pot meals are suited to buffet-style entertaining: They are typically easy to eat without a knife and can be stretched enough to handle a last-minute guest or two. We like risotto because of its versatility—it can be a first or main course, and it can change with the seasons.
What to buy: Arborio is a variety of short-grain Italian rice with a high starch content. It can be found in gourmet grocery stores, in Italian markets, or online. You can substitute Carnaroli if you are having a hard time finding Arborio.
Use a dry, unoaked white wine like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
- 1To prepare the dried mushrooms for the risotto, place them in a small mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. Let mushrooms sit until softened, about 45 minutes.
- 2To make the topping, heat the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, add the cremini mushrooms and stir to coat. Cook, stirring only once or twice, until the mushrooms are golden brown with crispy edges, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and toss with the chives; season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- 3To make the risotto, remove the dried mushrooms from the soaking liquid, gently squeezing the excess liquid back into the bowl and reserving the liquid. Chop the mushrooms and set aside. Strain the soaking liquid through a double thickness of cheesecloth or a paper coffee filter, being careful not to include any dirt that may have settled on the bottom of the bowl. In a heavy saucepan, combine the strained soaking liquid with the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to keep the mixture hot but below a simmer.
- 4In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until foamy. Add the shallots and cook until soft and lightly colored, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped reconstituted mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and stir until it is well coated with butter. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has completely evaporated.
- 5Add 1 cup of the hot broth to the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed, about 8 to 10 minutes. Continue to cook the rice, adding 1/2 cup of the hot stock at a time and stirring until it is absorbed before adding more. When the rice is done, it should be creamy and tender but still slightly firm to the bite; the total cooking time will be 30 to 40 minutes.
- 6To assemble the dish, remove the risotto from the heat, stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Spoon the risotto into the center of each serving dish, top with the sautéed cremini mushrooms, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Serve immediately, passing extra cheese on the side.
Beverage pairing: Travaglini Gattinara, Piedmont, Italy. This wine is made from Nebbiolo and comes from the region of truffles and other foraged fungi. With mineral and tart cherry, as well as some earthy qualities, it’s a natural with wild mushrooms. Often older vintages can be found, which in this case helps the pairing.