Wednesday, March 02, 2011

What's for Dinner? Risotto, step-by-step.


Pantry meals have been saving the day around here as recent snowstorms (and a good dose of laziness) have kept us from venturing out to the market. We've covered comfort foods from the pantry such as pancakes with homemade syrup, as well as winter pizza, and today I'm sharing another staple: risotto.

Chicken stock in the freezer, butter and cheese in the fridge, and rice, onions, and vermouth in the pantry, this is one dish I always have all the components for. And on blustery February days, risotto is the perfect one-pot dinner to stir together.

Add-ins always vary based on what I have or don't have on hand. Frozen peas make a frequent appearance, as do leeks, butternut squash, and the occasional handful of dehydrated morel mushrooms. My mother brings me a few jars every time she visits; they've been picked from her Northern BC acreage and are truly a taste of home.

Basic Risotto, with a few favorite add-ins.

Recipes, methods and ingredients all vary for risotto, and I won't go all Gordon Ramsay on you and curse if you don't make risotto exactly my way. I would give you a warm squeeze, however, and encourage you to try my recipe, down to the last drop of vermouth.

It's bloody good.

Staple Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup vermouth, or white wine
  • 1.5 litres (6 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
  • salt and pepper
Extras:
  • 1 cup dried morel mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
Prep:
  • Grate Parmesan cheese.
  • Finely chop red onion.
  • Heat chicken stock to a simmer and locate a ladle.
  • Pour a bit of hot stock over morels and let stand 10 minutes. Then drain, reserving the liquid, and set aside. Liquid can be returned to the chicken stock.
  • Rehydrate saffron threads in a little hot stock, if using.

Method:

1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt 3T of butter and olive oil together over medium heat.

2. When butter is bubbling, add onion and stir to combine. Sauté onions for about ten minutes until soft and translucent. Stir occasionally, and do not allow onions to brown.

3. Add rice all at once and stir thoroughly. You want rice to be completely coated in butter and give each grain a chance to be toasted. This takes about one minute.

4. Add vermouth and stir well. Cook for another minute or two until most of the liquid evaporates.


5. Add several ladlefuls of hot stock to the rice. Be careful, as it will steam viciously. Stir well. Add saffron threads and liquid. Keep heat on medium and continue adding stock slowly and stirring thoroughly. Risotto will take about 15 minutes to cook. You may need more liquid, in which case, just add more hot water.


6. Taste risotto grains as you go along. When they are tender, but still with a slight bite to them, you can add the rest of the ingredients. Stir in morel mushrooms and most of the Parmesan. Stir gently to combine. Do NOT over stir, as risotto will become gummy instead of creamy.

7. Taste risotto and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed. This is important to do after the cheese has been added, as it will contribute significantly to the saltiness of the dish.

8. Finish risotto with the last tablespoon of butter. Transfer to a serving bowl, if using, and top with remaining Parmesan. Dig in with a spoon and enjoy.

4 comments:

Sprinzette @ Ginger and Almonds said...

This is great - I'm a risotto novice, so this is exactly the type of thing I need. Am now going to take five and explore the rest of your site. Thanks for sharing.

Amy said...

yum! I usually make mine in a pressure cooker, which feels legit, since a friend from Italy taught me how.

Question: You have us adding the saffron in two different places. Would you please clarify?

As always, grazie!

Aimée said...

Hi Amy, Thanks for pointing that out! The recipe has been edited.

Melissa said...

I love risotto! Oh and by the way, I could eat that hunk of parm all by itself. I'd be a happy camper just doing that!

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