Quick look at the freezer…. I don’t feel like defrosting anything.
Opening up the pantry… a half-full bag of arborio rice? Chicken stock?
I like risotto because in spite of its fancy-pants reputation, it is practically foul-proof. You can flavor it as you like (variety of stocks and seasonings), with whatever aromatics you have on hand. It does take a bit of common kitchen sense as to proportions – how much oil is enough for sauteeing the aromatics, how much liquid should be used for the rice, how much cheese is too much cheese… but once you master a basic recipe, you can improvise and play! (This is my third post on risotto out of… not that many. I rest my case).
This is all there is to risotto, whether it is a regular Milanese, jambalaya, con gandules…
- Warm up cooking liquid and enhance flavor with spices or aromatics.
- Cook aromatics until soft in a large, shallow pan
- Add rice and cook for a couple of minutes with the oil
- Deglace the pan with wine (if you are using) or with stock
- Add liquid by the ladlefulls stir, leave alone until most of the liquid is absorbed, and stir again. Repeat until rice is cooked.
- Add butter, cheese, and/or flavored oil, stir and serve quickly.
I ended up making a basic parmesan risotto with arugula and pine nuts (for texture). One cup of uncooked arborio rice yielded for three main course servings or four to six side portions.The cooking liquid for this risotto consisted of one can of chicken stock, reinforced with a chicken bouillon cube with an extra three cups of water (for a total of four cups for one cup of arborio rice). I “doctored” it with a bit of fresh thyme. I did have some leftover liquid but it was definitely less than half a cup. While the stock warms up, chop half onion (mine was a left over from a previous recipe) and a shallot or a couple of cloves of garlic. Sautée in a large, shallow pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add the rice, a bit of extra oil if your pan/onions look dry, and stir it until the grains start looking brighter and shiny. There will be some brown bits stuck to the bottom of your pan. If you have wine, add a ladlefull and scrap them all away. I usually have cheap but drinkable Chilean Sauvignon Blanc on hand for these purposes (and to drink while I cook). If you don’t have wine or don’t want to open a bottle for just a bit, just take from your chicken stock – what matters is getting that browned veggie flavor into the risotto.