Monday, January 12, 2009

Risotto....I don't know...

Ok, so I know that I said I was going to be doing recipes for the average cooker.  Recipes for anyone that can boil water, or at least knows how to cut a potato, or cook a noodle.  So at first glance, or read I guess, this dish may seem a little daunting.  It takes a lot of work, and maybe some ingredients that you wouldn't have around the house all the time, but it is worth it, and it isn't hard, just work.  So why even put this post on here if the average reader isn't going to try it?(Sorry if I am giving some of you to little credit)  But I am putting it on here because every time that I make it, Lynsey and I just want to curl up on the couch with a big bowl full of risotto and eat until we are stuffed.  It is a serious comfort food that I never even knew of and I am sure that so many of you may not know of.  So if you are up to it, try it.  I will tell you how it is traditionally done, and also how I do it.  Also, if you are to afraid, there are recipes out there that are so called "quick" recipes.  I have never tried them, but you can find them on the sites that I have linked here.

Anyways, lets get on with it.  Risotto starts with the rice.  What makes the risotto what it is, is the starch from the rice, brought out in the way that it is cooked.  So to make real risotto you need to start with Arborio rice.  This is a shorter grained rice with a higher starch content.  I only tell you this because you do not want to try and make this with the white rice that you have sitting in a bag that you never use, or the rice that only takes a minute to cook.  You will not be pleased and you will think that I am an idiot.  More and more places are caring Arborio rice, but not everywhere.  To be sure you will find it at places like Whole Foods, or Trader Joe's, but even Kroger or Marsh may carry it.  This is the main ingredient that you will have to seek out.  But it is worth it, I promise.

I like to make my risotto with carrots and sometimes peas.  I also almost always eat it with chicken, so I am going to tell you how to make it this way.  I will also give you the optional things that I do, but you don't have to.

2 tablespoons Olive oil
1/2 Onion, small dice
1 Carrot, small dice (optional)
1 cup Arborio Rice
1/2-1 cup White wine (sort of optional)
4 cups chicken broth
Saffron threads, in chicken broth (totally optional)
1/4-1/2 cup peas (optional)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt/Pepper to taste

First, heat olive oil in a saucepan and saute onions and carrots.  Season with salt.  Add rice to pot and stir to coat rice with oil, and lightly brown.  Add white wine just to cover the rice.  (This is where the work starts.  Also, if you don't have white wine on hand, which I don't always have, just start with the chicken broth).  At this point you will want to stir the rice almost continuously .  Stir the rice, until almost all of the liquid has been cooked out of the pot.  Once the liquid is cooked down, add more broth, just to cover the rice.  Continue stirring the rice, again, until almost all liquid has been cooked off.  You will repeat this process about four times.  Once the rice is nearly completely cooked, add your peas.  They do not take long to cook, so that is why you add them at the end.  When rice is cooked add your parmesan and stir in.  Also adjust seasoning to your liking.

I said I almost always have it with chicken as well.  To make the chicken, I just cook a boneless breast in olive oil in a separate skillet and add it to the rice on my plate.  There may be a way to do it with the chicken actually cooked with the rice, but that is not the way I know to do it.

I don't know if my instructions are clear enough to give you a good picture of how to make this, but I hope so.  It is so good, and I mean it, put it in a bowl, and curl up on the couch with your special someone and watch a good movie with some good rice.  Here are some pictures.  However, this time it is on a plate just for a picture, but I would rather have it in a bowl.

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