Is it just me, or do the recipes that take the longest generally end up being pretty easy? You can stuff some herbs, and maybe half a lemon, up a chicken's bum and throw it in the oven to roast; you can throw some ingredients and broth into a pot and let it simmer into a soup or stew. You can cook down a bunch of apples to make sauce, or if you're feeling particularly ambitious, jelly.
I'd like to think that risotto is the same way. People think risotto is scary because it takes a long time, but really, it's just stirring. Yes, it means that you won't be free to do other things at the same time, but if you think ahead and you pop some tomatoes in the oven to roast and let your boyfriend make the put-everything-in-a-food-processor tofu patty recipe, then dinner is all set.
I learned how to make risotto from my friend Blair way back in second year of university. I probably have a recipe written down on a stained index card somewhere, and was pleasantly surprised that I could reproduce it from my head at B.'s house. Yes, that's how easy risotto is.
When something has as few ingredients as a basic risotto, it's all about the ingredients. Use real butter. Use a decent white wine (not hard for me to find something "decent" as I know nothing about wines, ha!) Use homemade stock if possible; if not, cheat and perk up some store-bought stuff by throwing in some fresh herbs ;)
Traditionally I would throw any add-ins (i.e. peppers, mushrooms, spinach, whatever!) right into the pot, but often that throws off the liquid balance and can leave you with overcooked vegetables and undercooked rice. Here I took the safe route and just pan-fried some crimini mushrooms in butter on the side, but don't be afraid to experiment. I'm sure there are lots of recipes out there that can serve as inspiration, or start small, like playing with the types of broth and types of wine. (I can imagine beef broth and red wine being very intense together.)
Makes 4 servings
- 3 cups (750 mL) vegetable or chicken broth
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic or 1 shallot, sliced
- 1 cup (250 mL) arborio, or other short-grain rice
- 1 cup (250 mL) white wine
- ¼ cup (60 mL) parmesan cheese, grated
Nutrition Info (per serving): 356 calories, 10 g fat (7 g saturated), 45 g carbohydrate (2 g fibre, 2 g sugar), 9 g protein, 577 mg sodium. An excellent source manganese and selenium.
- In a small saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Turn heat down to low and leave pot on stove until ready to use.
- In another, larger saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion becomes soft and translucent. Add rice and stir to coat in butter.
- Ladle ½ cup of broth into the rice. Stir until all of the broth has been absorbed. Repeat with the remaining broth and with white wine. Taste to make sure risotto is at desired texture; if it's too hard, leave it on the heat and stir occasionally until it is fully cooked.
- Fold in parmesan cheese and other add-ins, if using. Serve.