Mar 20, 2009

Stir the Day Away

Raise your hand if you find the idea of making risotto a little intimidating… Yeah, I did too. Until I tried it.

Dinner For One: Risotto

I came home last night after a long day – a VERY long day. The kind of day that tests your patience, wears out your last nerve and follows you out the door, into your car and all the way home. So I was still pretty worked up when I got home. I needed to shake it off, let go of my day and enjoy my evening – but how?

I had read a post last week about eating down your pantry. The idea is that you forage in your pantry and create a meal from what you already have instead of heading to the store. Since I was in no mood to go back out to the grocery store, I decided to see what I could find.

A container of Arborio rice had a recipe for risotto on the back that seemed deceptively simple and I had everything on hand, so I decided to give it a try. Turns out it was the perfect antidote to my bad day. Forty-five minutes later I had chopped and stirred my anxiety away, restored my patience waiting for the broth to be absorbed bit by bit, and was rewarded with a delicious, comforting & sophisticated supper.

The Recipe:
1 cup uncooked rice
2 TB olive oil
2 TB butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
salt and pepper (optional)

1. Saute onion in oil and butter for 3 mins.
2. Add rice, stirring for about 2 mins.
3. Stir in 1 cup of broth. Continue cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed.
4. Gradually stir in remaining broth, 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup.

A couple of things that surprised me:
1. The recipe didn’t call for any cheese. I thought risotto always had cheese in it to add to its creaminess – but it turns out that’s completely unnecessary. I did add a handful of parmesan to my pot before I took it off the heat, but really I just wanted to add some complexity of flavor since I didn’t have any great add-ins on hand like mushrooms, peas or asparagus.

2. It didn’t say when to add the salt & pepper. I added them about 2/3 of the way through – I had started tasting at that point and knew it could handle a pinch of both.

3. The stock didn’t have to be hot before it was added to the rice. I’ve always seen risotto being made with two pots on the stove – one for the rice and one to heat the stock so it’s hot when it’s added to the rice and gets absorbed faster. I tried it that way but I can’t say if it made a bit of difference.

4. There was no mention of saffron. Again, I thought traditional risotto always called for saffron so I was surprised it wasn’t listed. I actually had some, so I added a pinch because, really, what else am I going to use it for?

5. I only had to stir frequently – not constantly. This isn’t the kind of thing I would make for a dinner party because you’re definitely working right up until you pull it off the stove and I prefer recipes that let me spend time with my guests before we eat. But with the heat on low, I did find that I only had to stir the pot every minute or so instead of continuously like I’ve seen others do.

The Verdict:
I’ll absolutely be making risotto again – soon. It was delicious and easier than I ever imagined. The ingredient list is short and I always have what I need on hand. Plus it’s great stovetop therapy. Next time I’m going to try it with some sautĂ©ed mushrooms and a little thyme. What will you put in yours?

3/25/09 UPDATE: Loved this article that appeared on the NY Times Bitten blog the same day as this one!

1 comment:

Happier Than Most said...

Loved this entry! Chicken Man hurt his leg so I might have to cook tonight. If I make this, he'll think I'm really savvy.