Saturday, March 10, 2012

Adventures in Cooking: Risotto

One day a couple of months ago, it occurred to me that I should try my hand at risotto. For the life of me, I can't remember what sparked the initial impulse, but I loved it so much (which is funny because I never used to like risotto) that since then, I have experimented with a couple of versions.

I started out with a basic version from Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals 2, an adapted version of which is below. I was kind of amazed at how simple this recipe was -- you need chicken broth, olive oil, arborio rice, white wine and cheese (her recipe calls for Parmigiano Reggiano, but I just used provolone). Although Rachael's recipe also includes an onion, I found it to be optional -- when I didn't have one, I used two garlic cloves instead. In total, risotto only takes about 20 minutes or so to cook, and basically all you have to do is stir (and rock out to iTunes -- that's usually what I do to amuse myself at the stove).

Having tackled that recipe successfully, I moved on to a Red Wine Risotto with Peas, courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis and her book, Giada's Family Dinners. This recipe is more or less the same, except you use red wine to give the rice a gorgeous lilac tint and of course, you add peas. While I liked the recipe overall, I found that I hated the peas -- to me, they taste a bit like dirt, and I found that didn't go well with my risotto, so in subsequent versions, I left them out.

Lastly, I've tried a tomato mozzarella version, which is probably my favorite, though Cagatay likes the plain version best. For this one, I looked around on the Internet to see generally how it was done, and then modified the Rachael Ray recipe accordingly. Which means, I'm excited to present my first, somewhat-mine recipe:

Tomato Mozzarella Risotto:
(Adapted from Best Basic Risotto, Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals 2)

4 cups chicken broth
28.3 g (2 tbsp) butter
15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
1 onion or 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1.5 cups arborio rice
.5 cup white wine
4 decent-sized tomatoes, blanched, peeled and roughly chopped
1 ball mozzarella cheese, sliced

After getting your tomatoes ready, prepare the chicken broth and put it in a saucepan and simmer. Then, in a large saucepan or pot, combine the olive oil and butter on medium to medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add your onions and/or garlic -- if you're using onion, cook for 3 minutes, and if you're using garli, cook for about 1 minute, until it smells fragrant. Then add the arborio rice and saute, 2 minutes more, getting the rice coated with the oil. Add the wine and let it cook away, 1 or 2 minutes. Then, over the next 18 minutes, you add the broth a few ladles at a time -- I add the tomatoes right after I add the first spoonful of broth. Stir the broth into the rice each time the liquid has been absorbed; I stir almost constantly so that nothing burns at the bottom of the pan. After 18 minutes, all the broth should be gone and the rice should be soft (taste test!). At this point, add in the mozzarella and stir it in until it's totally melted. Take it off the heat and let it sit for about 5 minutes -- it needs to cool down, but it also seems to come together a little more.

Enjoy! Just writing out this recipe makes me want to cook risotto for dinner tonight!

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