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Risotto Unmasked!

December 15, 2008

Last night, after a long day of work, Toys ‘R Us, and cramming for Book Club, I noticed the welcoming aroma of hearty broth emanating from my kitchen.  Following my nose, I arrived to find my lovely, sweet, helpful, partner-in-dine, meditatively preparing something sensational on the stove, oblivious to my cooing admiration.  After sweetly praising his efforts,  my questions growing more insistent and repetitive by the minute, I finally took my eyes of the pan only to realize he was sporting giant headphones, and had barely noticed my presence.  I know better than to try and break the concentration of a potential Iron Chef contestant in the making.

I padded back out to the living room to finish an episode of Entourage, when suddenly before me arrived a steaming plate of his flagship creation: my baby’s first risotto. 

I have always feared risotto.  A staunch advocate of long grain white rice, I have bad memories of shedding tears because my mom had not used Uncle Ben’s, therefore rendering rice that was sticky, not separate, rather than attempting to reverse that formula like the commercials suggested.  Brown rice practically induces gag reflex unless I’m eating at Heiwa Shokudo, and perfectly home-cooked sushi rice is more elusive than a straight flush, as far as my skills are concerned.  So how could this risotto beast possibly be tamed?  It’s very separate, practically al dente, and yet still meant to soak in delicate and hearty sauces alike with perfect symmetry. 

Partner-in-Dine merely stated his method, without pretention.  Butter, olive oil (everything good starts with those two ingredients, in case you didn’t know) then sautee onions, mushrooms, throw on the arborio rice, saute, add a cup of veggie stock, cook down,  add another cup, cook down, add another, cook down, add peas, and voila!  Let sit, uncovered.  The first bite was still a little too al dente, but the fourth bite was perfect!  Apparently, the rice continues cooking in the sauce and soaking it in with slow acceptance, like it’s a new kid at school.

This has opened up a whole new world in our warm, bright kitchen this season.  Oyster sauce, leeks, saffron, corn, chicken, crab, asparagus, and the list continues.  Risotto, welcome to my life.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. the dj permalink
    December 17, 2008 11:41 am

    A little beginners luck can go a long way. My old stalwart Joy of Cooking has some nice risotto recipes that I can’t wait to try now that I’ve read your post GG. Apparantly, risotto has to be constantly attended, a bit more time consuming than just leaving pasta cooking in the pot. For a guy who struggles with kitchen time management hovering over risotto presents some challenges.

  2. unionmaidn permalink
    December 18, 2008 5:11 pm

    But Mom NEVER bought Uncle Ben’s rice. I also remember your requests and how callously they were ignored.

    I think it was more because of its slightly higher price point over that of generic rice, rather than because of any objection to the racist overtones of the Uncle Ben mascot. But you’d have to ask her.

  3. January 13, 2009 7:25 pm

    You can make risotto in the crockpot and it’s way less work (no stirring) and simply delish. Lora Brody has a good crockpot cookbook that I use frequently. Here’s a version of her risotto:
    http://sarabrumfield.blogspot.com/2008/04/no-stir-crockpot-risotto.html

    Jennifer

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