01 Feb Special of the day: Ready, Set, Risotto!
If you’ve ever had reservations about making risotto at home, we’re here to help. Those rumors of the gallons of stock and hours of stirring required to achieve the heavenly creaminess enjoyed when ordering the classic Italian short-grained rice dish in a restaurant are simply not true.
Requiring relatively few ingredients, a heavy pot and sure, some frequent stirring action, risotto is the classier cousin of run-of-the-mill rice. So, isn’t it time you stepped up to the pot?
Master the basics, and the sky’s the limit on variations on this one-pot wonder. Basically, preparing risotto involves sautéing onions (or garlic, shallots, or fennel, etc.) and minced fresh herbs in butter, adding Arborio rice and a small amount of stock (could be chicken, vegetable or beef), stirring until absorbed and continuing to add stock in small amounts and stirring until the rice is al dente, or slightly firm to the bite. At this point, cheese can be added, as well as any other cooked protein you desire to fortify the risotto.
Arborio rice is used in risotto because it undergoes less milling than ordinary rice. Because of this, Arborio rice has a higher natural starch content which is released when cooked, creating the creamy consistency which gives risotto its signature charm.
Timing is everything with risotto, though, so as soon as the rice is al dente, you want to serve it immediately before it cools down and you lose the velvety goodness.
Resurrect refrigerated leftover Mushroom Thyme Risotto the next day by making risotto cakes as a quick appetizer or side dish if you wish.
- Spoon out golf ball-sized scoops of risotto.
- Flatten to a thickness of 1 inch on a sheet of waxed paper.
- Coat with panko or bread crumbs.
- Grill on a preheated griddle brushed with olive oil until golden brown on both sides and warmed through.
- Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Enjoy!
Stir the pot with this week’s Special of the day: Ready, Set, Risotto! and recipes for Mushroom Thyme Risotto and Rosemary Risotto with Chicken Apple Sausage and Fontina and perhaps a few risotto cakes, to boot!Mushroom Thyme Risotto (serves 4-6) 2 tablespoons butter 1 sweet onion, finely chopped 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, stems removed 1.06 ounce package Mushroom Soup Blend dried mushrooms (woodear, porcini, oyster) 2 cups Arborio rice (do not substitute) 32 ounce carton chicken stock ¼ teaspoon salt 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated ½ cup heavy cream Additonal thyme sprigs for garnish In a Dutch oven or other large heavy sauce pot, melt butter over medium heat and sauté onion and thyme until softened, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, soak mushrooms in 2 cups boling water and soak for 5 minutes. Drain mushrooms, reserving liquid. Add rice to onions and thyme and and stir to combine. Add reserved mushroom liquid, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed. Reduce heat if necessary. Add 2/3 cup chicken stock at a time and stirring until absorbed until you have used all of the chicken stock and the rice is tender. Add salt. Add cheese, cream and mushrooms and stir to combine. Cook until heated through. Serve hot and garnish with thyme sprigs. Enjoy! Rosemary Risotto with Chicken Apple Sausage and Fontina (serves 4-6) 2 tablespoons butter ½ cup finely chopped fennel bulb (some produce departments label it “anise”) 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (leaves only) minced 2 cups Arborio rice (do not substitute) 32 ounces chicken stock, divided ¼ teaspoon salt 4 fully cooked chicken sausages with apples, sliced in ½ inch rounds and then sliced in half ¾ cup Fontina cheese, grated Additional rosemary sprigs for garnish In a Dutch oven or other large heavy sauce pot, melt butter over medium heat and sauté fennel and rosemary until softened, about 2 minutes. Add rice and stir to combine. Add chicken stock, 2/3 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat, adding 2/3 cup chicken stock at a time and stirring until absorbed until you have used all of the chicken stock and the rice is tender. Add salt. Add cheese and stir to combine. Add sausages and cook until heated through. Serve hot and garnish with rosemary sprigs. Enjoy!
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . Sydne’s recipes from “Special of the day” are archived at http://sydnegeorge.com/blog/.