Once I was chilling with a girl friend, talking about food, because that’s what we do (that and drink wine and talk about why boys are dumb, but those are all topics for other posts), and I mentioned that I love making risotto as a quick and easy side, or even as a stand-alone.
She was all, “Say what? Risotto takes fah-ever to make and it’s basically a pain in the ass!” 20 minutes, dude. Maybe 25. 30 if you’re a really slow chopper. And it’s easy peasy. Peas! Risotto is also good with peas.
Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. The trick that my friend didn’t know about for risotto bliss is to heat the liquid before ladling it into the rice. I have no scientific method for making risotto, so I’ll just tell you what you need and how to make it.
- Small saucepan
- Large skillet with high sides (soup pot works too)
- Spatula or wooden spoon (something to stir the rice in the skillet with)
- 1 cup Arborio rice (yes, this matters, and yes, you can find it at the regular grocery store)
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1/2 cup white wine (more for drinking -- I won’t judge)
- 1/2 cup cream (this is technically optional, why not?)
- 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, also finely chopped
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms (also optional, I just happen to love mushrooms)
- Parmesan cheese, grated (as much as you like -- I go with about a cup)
- Salt and pepper
Ok, let’s start, shall we?
Pour the stock into the smaller saucepan and get that going over a flame (or electric coil, whatevs). Meanwhile, heat up your larger pan, and chop your mushrooms if they need it. Add a couple of dollops (2 tablespoons maybe?) of EVOO to the larger pan, and get the mushrooms going.
When they’re browned and cooked down, take them out of the pan. You’ll add them back in later. In the same pan, add more EVOO if you need it, then add the onion and garlic. After three or four minutes, they’ll be slightly softened. Add the rice to the pot and stir it around for a minute or two until it starts to look toasty.
Don’t burn it.
Add the wine. Fair warning if you ever come to dinner at my house -- occasionally this is poured directly from my glass. I figure the germs burn off with the alcohol.
It will likely absorb almost immediately, but that’s ok, because you have your heated stock ready to go! If it boils, turn it down, by the way -- you don’t want it all to evaporate before it gets to the rice!
So basically all the hard part is done. Ladle, stir a little, let it sit for a minute, stir some more, and when the liquid is mostly absorbed, add another ladle. It’s not an exact science. If it’s your first time, don’t leave the risotto’s side. It needs TLC.
When the stock is all gone, the rice should be a mess of creamy goodness -- and you haven’t even added the cream yet! Add the cream. And the cheese. And those mushrooms from earlier. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve. Die of bliss. Gain five pounds. Don’t care.
Image via Marie-Laure Tombini/Corbis