Saturday 23 March 2013

How to look like a highfalutin chef with a delicious and easy risotto recipe

            Risotto is one of those dishes I always wanted to make but I thought it was impossibly difficult. It sounds fancy- there's no way to say risotto and not sound like a fancy pants. I went to dinner at some friends' house in January and they served me a delicious dinner of roast chicken, green beans, and risotto. I knew I had to have it again! I came home and began to do some online research to find a recipe that sounded right- and not too difficult. And you know what? It's not that difficult. It is, however, time consuming. You can't walk away from the stove. Risotto, like my cat, commands your full attention on its own terms. Chef Michael Smith gave me the basic proportions and I've added my own flavours, as he encourages on his television cooking shows on Food Network.

  • 9 cups of chicken broth (I've used a few different types of chicken broth, but I'd suggest you always stick with a low sodium broth- you could use veggie or beef broth too!)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I used canola because that's what's in the cupboard)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup minced onions (about two small onions)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (I like to grate mine, but you can mince it)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice (you'll find it in the rice section of the grocery store, I swear!)
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used white cooking wine from the grocery store because I'm on a budget, but you use whatever white wine you like!)
  • pepper to taste (I've never needed to add salt because the broth is often salty enough)
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I've used provolone or Parmesan and they've both been incredible)
  • a fun stir-in: I've used sautéed cremini mushrooms or frozen peas and they've both been fantastic!
Use a giant pot to bring your chicken broth to a simmer. You want it to be hot when you add it to the rice later so that you don't cool down the rice when you add the liquid.

In a deep skillet, sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat just until they're soft, but not browned. 

Stir the rice into the onions and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about three minutes. The rice will go from clear to opaque and that's how you know you're ready to begin adding liquid. 

Add the wine to the rice and stir it in, allowing the alcohol to cook off for about five minutes  while you stir. You need to make sure you cook off the alcohol because you want the wine flavour, not the alcohol taste! (Unless you do, ya boozer, but don't say I didn't warn you!) Feel free to swig a drink of wine from the bottle, but I wouldn't suggest this if you're using cooking wine like I did. Not so tasty!

Now, you can start adding the broth, one cup at a time, to the rice. Make sure you stir the rice and allow each cup of broth to be absorbed before you add more broth. Yes, this is the time consuming part. Don't leave the stove. Stir, stir, stir. I chose to stir while I talked on the phone and that kept me entertained. But seriously, be patient. Stirring and slowly adding the broth is what will make the risotto creamy and delicious. If you don't want to stand over the stove, make Minute Rice instead. On second thought, don't ever make Minute Rice. Ever. Microwave a package of Uncle Ben's rice if you must. That Minute Rice stuff isn't even real rice, you know. This risotto is the real deal, and the real deal will take about 20 minutes from the time you add the first cup of broth. Taste it to make sure the grains are cooked.

When the risotto is cooked, take the pan off the heat and stir in the cheese. I used a cup of grated Parmesan cheese here- actual Parmesan cheese, not the stuff in the can. But I'm not snooty. That stuff is tasty, too. Use a cheese that makes you happy!

I decided to jazz my risotto up with sautéed cremini mushrooms, so I used a little oil and browned the mushrooms up nicely before adding them to the risotto.

            Michael Smith says this recipe makes enough for four main dishes or six to eight side dishes. I've only ever used it as a side dish and it definitely could serve eight people! You can refrigerate leftovers and enjoy the risotto for a couple of days.

            And enjoy it you will. I promise. You can take the basic proportions of rice to liquid and switch it up however you like by choosing different broths, cheeses, and stir-ins. If you've got a fantastic idea for a delicious stir-in, please leave it in a comment below. I'd love to keep trying new ideas and new flavours! Let me know what you think when you try out this fantastic recipe from a great Canadian chef... oh, and Michael Smith!

© Katie Jolicoeur and Blackhearts & Raspberry Tarts, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, written or visual, without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katie Jolicoeur and Blackhearts & Raspberry Tarts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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