Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Simpler Risotto

I wasn't sure what to call this risotto to let you know that this is surprisingly easy risotto to make.  Don't run away at the thought of constantly stirring a risotto dish! Leave it to Cook's Illustrated to devise a way to make risotto much easier to make but just as delicious to eat.  Their basic method starts the same - saute garlic and onions, then add the rice, and then add white wine.  However, instead of the classic risotto way of stirring in 1/2 cup of chicken broth at a time, you dump in 5 cups of hot chicken broth, cover it and let it cook on its own with only two or three quick stirs in the middle.

I've made this risotto twice so far and we've loved it both times.  The first time, I added caramelized onions, cooked and shredded chicken, and sauteed mushrooms, and served this as our main dish.  The second time, I added pureed cooked cauliflower (a tip from Everyday Food magazine that makes it very creamy without tasting the cauliflower!), sauteed mushrooms and frozen peas and served it as a side dish to the garlic shrimp with breadcrumbs

Finally, for all you non-risotto purists out there, I often use brown rice for this.  Mark Bittman at the New York Times has a recipe for parboiling brown rice, which allows you to partially cook the brown rice ahead of time.  Parboiling the brown rice first gave me the exact same cook time in the risotto as Arborio rice.   Of course, brown rice won't give the same creaminess as Arborio rice but does add a little extra nutrition and is something I always have in my pantry.   The only tip I recommend is that you should immediately refrigerate any cooked rice -- my husband knows more of the science behind it but if cooked rice stays around room temperature, a bacteria in the rice can release a toxin which doesn't sit well in your stomach.  And I'm pretty sure we've learned this the hard way.

So whether you want to make it as a main course or a side dish, don't discount this risotto by assuming you need to slave over the stove!

Simpler Risotto
Taken from: Cook's Illustrated via Annie's Eats
Serves 4-6
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 shallot, minced (I used about 2 tbsp. of minced yellow onion instead)
  • 2 cups Arborio (medium grain) rice (I often substitute brown rice)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, to your preference (from 1/8 - 1 cup; I typically add about 1/4-1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley and/or 2 tbsp. fresh chives (I omitted both)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Any add-ins you desire (you can make them beforehand or while the rice is cooking): cooked and shredded chicken, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, frozen peas, cooked shrimp, pureed cooked cauliflower, etc
  1. Optional (if using brown rice): In a large pot, bring to a boil 2 to 3 cups of water and 1/2 tablespoon salt. Add 1 cup long- or short-grain brown rice and boil for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain. Refrigerate unless using it quickly.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the chicken broth and water and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to a Dutch oven set over medium heat.  Once melted, add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the rice to the pan, stirring to coat.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the grains are translucent around the edges, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until fully absorbed, about 2-3 minutes.  Stir 5 cups of hot broth mixture into the rice.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until almost all liquid has been absorbed and the rice is just al dente, 16-19 minutes, stirring twice during cooking.
  5. While rice is cooking, assemble and/or cook any add-ins you desire.
  6. Add ¾ cup of the hot broth mixture to the risotto and stir gently and constantly until the risotto becomes creamy, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the Parmesan.  Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
  7. Stir the add-ins to the risotto with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, lemon juice, and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If desired, add up to ½ cup of the remaining broth mixture to add moisture and loosen the texture.  Serve.


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