Monday, May 11, 2009

Simple Risotto (and a killer "leftover" variation)

I wouldn't ordinarily make risotto--especially as a side dish--because it involves a bit of work and attention. However, after making the "leftover"variation (see below the main recipe), I'm a total convert. My family devoured it, it was inexpensive, and it's fairly healthy as a main dish; it's also SUPER tasty.

Recipe from How to Cook Everything, 10th ann. edition

  • 2 T. butter or olive oil, to taste (I used olive oil)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • large pinch saffron threads (optional--I left out)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio or other short- or medium-grain rice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper*
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine or water*
  • 4 to 6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
  • 2 to 4 T. softened butter or extra virgin olive oil*
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
*If you're using homemade, well-seasoned stock, you may need no extra salt and the wine might also be easily left out. Also, depending on whether you skim the fat off of your homemade stock, you might not need the extra butter/oil at the end.

  1. Put the 2 tablespoons butter/oil in a large, deep nonstick (or heavy duty stainless) skillet over medium heat. When hot, add onion (and saffron) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy and coated with butter or oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Add a little salt (if needed--see note above) and pepper, then the white wine or water. Stir and let the liquid bubble away.
  3. Use a ladle to begin adding the stock, 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring after each addition. When the stock is evaporated, add more. The mixture should be neither soupy nor dry. Keep the heat at medium to medium-high and stir frequently.
  4. Begin tasting the rice 20 minutes after you add it; you want it to be tender but still with a tiny bit of crunch; it could take as long as 30 minutes to reach this stage. When it does, stir in the softened butter or oil and at least 1/2 cup of Parmesan, if using. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve immediately, passing additional Parmesan at the table if you like.
Serves 4-6

Brown Rice Variation
You can buy short-grain brown rice, which you can use in this recipe. You should know, though, that it will need 8+ cups of stock/water and take more than an hour. Tasty, but tedious.

Leftover Variation
Make the Herb Roasted Chicken (whole chicken style) and then make stock that night: throw the carcass in a pot and add a bunch of water. Salt if desired. Let it boil down until you have about 8 cups or so. This will give you a very rich (and very flavorful) stock. Make the risotto above, throwing in 2 cups or so finely chopped leftover chicken with the rice and using the homemade stock. This was so perfectly seasoned for us that we left out the extra cheese (yes, we really did!), and didn't miss the wine or any added salt. Very, very tasty--and such a classy use for leftovers! You could do this with any well-seasoned, homemade chicken stock , but the herb-roasted variation really seemed to go nicely with the idea of risotto.


Bridgette Boudreaux said...

I was going to call you when I got home today to get this recipe! I'm making it tonight for dinner!

Bridgette Boudreaux said...

So I just made this and it was great. I do add a few ounces of cream cheese at the end for extra creaminess!

Betsy said...

Oooh... cream cheese is a great idea!