Thursday, January 6, 2011

Basic Risotto

This was supposed to be my version of a beautiful Giada De Laurentis recipe, Mushroom Risotto with Peas, but I had some supply issues.  By which I mean, I didn't buy mushrooms or peas, and the shops are all closed today for Epiphany.  I'm sure the children will be happier anyway - various groups of them don't like mushrooms and/or peas.

Heat the chicken - or veggie - stock in a sauce pan until warm.  Keep on a low simmer while preparing the rice.  (Or in my case, turn it on and off so that you can keep it somewhere between boiling and cold.)

Start with the basis of nearly all my recipes:  some butter and oil heated in a large skillet.  Add chopped onion and garlic and cooked until smushy and scrumptious.

Add the rice and toast it gently, without letting it get perceptibly darker or at all cooked looking.

Once the rice seems nice and toasty, pour in the wine and let it absorb through the rice.  Stir to distribute the wine thoroughly.  You can skip the wine if you aren't a wine person, but it does add a nice depth to the flavor.

With the wine absorbed, scoop or ladle one-ish cup of broth from the sauce pan and pour it into the rice.  Stir occasionally and cook over medium-low heat until the broth has soaked into the rice.  Repeat, one cup at a time, stirring regularly.

You know that you need to add more broth when there isn't much excess liquid when pull a spoon through the rice.

For comparison, this is the exact same picture when it needs to do more absorbing.

The risotto is done when you taste it and feels creamy in texture.  You will probably use at least 6 cups of chicken stock but not as much as 8 cups.  This can take between 1/2 and one hour, depending all sorts of random variables.

When your mouth says the risotto has absorbed enough stock, turn off the heat and stir in about 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.  I used really good cheese, you might need more if you are using Kraft or similar.  I think that good cheese makes all the difference in this (and many other) recipes.  Eaters can add more cheese at the table, but you don't want to overcheese it on the stove.

The Verdict

Yum, creamy goodness!  The dreamy husband wasn't home from work but the rest of us ate anyway.  One daughter loved it and added a bunch more parmesan to hers.  I thought it was particularly good with a bit of roast chicken on the same fork - the flavors really went together beautifully.  The other three daughters had various stages of revolt, from leaving dinner without eating anything to pushing the risotto around their plate while they ate chicken and vegetables.

Basic Risotto, serves 6 as a side

eight cups chicken or vegetable broth or stock
two onions, finely chopped
one tablespoon garlic
one and one-half cups Arborio rice
nearly a full cup of non-sweet white wine
half-cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat stock in a sauce pan and keep warm throughout recipe.

Melt butter with oil and cook onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes or until translucent and soft.

Add rice and allow to toast gently over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes.

Pour in wine and let it absorb into the rice.

When the wine is absorbed, add one cup of broth to the rice and let it cook gently until the liquid is mostly soaked into the rice.

Repeat with the broth until the rice is just barely soft through and has a smooth texture.  This may take 1/2 to one hour and may use 6-8 cups of broth.

Remove the rice from heat and stir in parmesan cheese.

You may add all sorts of ingredients to this recipe...add things that need to cook more with the wine, and add things that do not need to cook at the end with the parmesan.  There should be enough residual heat in the rice to warm the last minute ingredients if they aren't frozen.

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