March 9, 2011


Posted by Ethne~

I fortunately inherited my mother’s genes when it comes to rice – I love all kinds.  My father thinks that rice is so terrible it is inedible – complete nonsense (that’s right Dad!).  Dad’s exception to the rule is wild rice, but that’s technically a grass seed.  I love that too, btw.

Dad and Mom Connie - he's talking in yet another photo!

Today, though, it’s all about risotto – an Italian preparation of short-grain rice – and one of my faves!  Dad has eaten it at my house before, and I think it was more than just courtesy – I put asparagas in it, so it was a trick.  We tell the girls it’s cheesy rice, though that’s a bit too simplistic to do it justice.  Whatever it takes.  (Like we tell the girls all meat is a nugget: 'shrimp nuggets', 'steak nuggets', 'fish nuggets' - no breading necessary.  Thanks, McDonald's.)

Risotto is thick, creamy and a meal all in itself.  It’s pretty much a hotdish but it’s not baked – all stovetop.  Be warned that risotto is a little time intensive, but have no fear, it’s easy as pie.  Plus, if you’re eating it as a meal, you’re only dealing with the risotto, and not other preparation too.

You’ll need:

1 cup Arborio rice
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red or white wine (I’ve also used beer)
4 cups chicken broth (water could substitute) – keep this warm in a pot on the stove next to your risotto-cooking pan
1/2-3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Butter/oil for sautéing; salt/pepper to taste
OPTIONAL: fresh peas, asparagas, mushrooms, squash, or other veggies can be added to make it a meal.

Don’t quibble, I know there are more than 5 ingredients here.  However, you will probably already have some of these items on hand, so it’s not REALLY like you have to go out of your way to procure heaps of extra ingredients.

The two stars of the show

Step 1:  Saute the chopped onion and minced garlic in butter/olive oil (approx. 2 T of either one) over medium heat until the onion starts to turn translucent – about 5 minutes.  Add the dry cup of rice and cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring around the rice until it gets toasted a little.  I can’t actually tell that the rice is toasted by it changing to a toasty-looking color.  But I can see that the grains are getting well coated in the onion-oil mixture.

Let's get this show on the road!
Adding in mushrooms!
'Toasting' the rice grains; chicken broth on back burner

Step 2:  Deglaze the pan: which is foodie-talk for add in the wine and it’ll steam and sizzle and lift all the yummy drippings off of the bottom of the pan to stir in with the mix.  Stir the wine and rice around for a couple of minutes until the wine gets absorbed into the rice.

No specific measurements here - just till it looks like the rice
is fully covered with wine.

SIDEBAR:  The reason risotto takes so long is you have to add the liquid in parts as the rice cooks, allowing the separate additions of liquid to absorb each time.  While I am no scientist, just a regular gal, I understand that the reason for this is that the starches are high in a short-grain rice like Arborio, and allowing the liquid to absorb little by little releases the starches and makes the finished risotto really creamy.  Whatever.

Step 3:  After the wine is absorbed, add 2 ladle-fulls of chicken broth, stir around, and allow to absorb; you will stir frequently throughout.  Keep going with this process until you have no more chicken broth left.

The grains are getting chunky - peas coming soon.

OPTIONAL Step 3(a):  When I have all of the liquid absorbed except for the last 2 ladle-fulls, I add my other ingredients such as mushrooms (though this time I added them at the beginning since they were big chunks), peas, asparagas or butternut squash (the squash and asparagas will have to be pre-cooked/steamed and cubed before using in risotto; don’t overcook the asparagas or it will turn to mush in the risotto, ick).  Adding these ingredients toward the end of cooking assures you that the items won’t be overcooked, they won’t get mashed up from all the stirring, but they will be cooked through and hot.  [If your pee turns green after eating asparagas risotto, don’t fear, that’s an asparagas trademark.  No harm.]

Lori and I would say no meal is complete without cheese!

Step 4:  As the rice is absorbing the last batch of chicken broth, stir in the parmesan cheese until it is creamy.  Serve up hot!  Da-lish!


Anonymous said...

Hi girls,
Just wanted to tell you about the side dish I had at a posh restaurant today because it fits with this article. It was quinoa but had been cooked just like a risotto with lots of broth and butter. I've always just cooked quinoa with broth like regular rice and it's yummy that way but I had no idea the risotto-style cooking would make it so creamy. Quinoa is a much more nutritious grain than rice so I highly suggest you try it sometime.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot to add that with the quinoa, butter and broth, the restaurant put in wild mushrooms and then cooked some asparagus to tender-crisp and chopped it and sprinkled it over the quinoa. The meal also came with a nice piece of sole. Delish!

WOM-MOMS said...

Chrissy - Excellent! Thrifty Nana has some quinoa in her house as we speak - now I have a good excuse to try it! ~Ethne