Orzo is a form of pasta that is cut roughly in the shape of large grains of rice, which may be why it is also called risoni (meaning “big rice”). Like all pasta and rice, it lends itself easily to a wide range of flavors and is, for that reason, a versatile side dish to accompany almost any meat main dish.
I made this recipe up on the fly to accompany a braised lamb with herb au jus I made for the birthday dinner of a friend and it ended up being the star of the evening.
Orzo with Wine, Mushrooms and Parmesan
Pasta, Rice & Polenta
1 lb mushrooms, minced
8 sprigs fresh thyme (small, skinny sprigs - don't use too much or it will overpower the dish).
4 cups chicken stock
12 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 cups orzo
2/3 cup dry white wine
Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup shredded Parmesano-Reggiano
Melt 8 T. butter in a large sauté pan. Add mushrooms and thyme and cook over medium heat until the mushrooms lose their water and brown nicely. Season with salt and pepper to taste but be sure not to over-salt the mushrooms.
In a large saucepan, boil the chicken stock and then let it simmer while you prepare the orzo.
Melt 4 T butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat until it is slightly brown. Add the orzo and cook, stirring constantly, until the orzo begins to brown lightly.
Add the wine to the orzo pan and stir until the orzo absorbs the liquid. Add the chicken stock to the saucepan and cover, cooking until the orzo is tender. This should be 18-20 minutes.
Add the browned mushrooms to the saucepan with the orzo and stir until well incorporated. Add the cheese and the cream and mix, adding salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let the orzo rest for a few minutes so that it can absorb the flavors and moisture from the cream. Serve hot.