A Lesson in Risotto

by Sarah on September 25, 2011 · 10 comments

Wondering what’s been going on with my Culinary Bucket List? Well, as I told y’all on Tuesday, I ate some risotto for breakfast.And guess what? That (leftover) risotto was the result of my very own handwork!Yes, you can reheat risotto…just add some more water or broth [slash] stock.
Cook [Only on the stove! No microwave allowed!] until you can “part the Red Sea”* easily.
*Yes. I like that metaphor, too. I wish I could claim it.

And then it’s practically (kinda, sorta, maybe…) as good as it was the first time around.

Well, at least the pictures are prettier in the daylight. :)

But, to paraphrase Deana Carter…how did I get there from here?Turns out I’ve stumbled upon my very own Alton Brown, who, upon reading about my Culinary Bucket List challenge, immediately approached me with the news that he was “claiming risotto.” Thus, I wasn’t very surprised when I was told to guess what we were making for dinner last week, based on the gathered ingredients.

[And also, if you have half a culinarily-focused mind, you could probably guess that rice + wine + butter = risotto. ;)]

But first, I had to have a knife skills lesson. Knowing me as you do…you can probably imagine how well someone trying to tell me how to hold a knife went over. [Let’s just say some form of the phrase, “But my way is faster, easier, and I’m gonna do it how I want to!” came out of my mouth more than once.] And we should probably not even talk about the onions.But seriously…can you REALLY tell mine isn’t “uniformly cut”? Do you think it REALLY matters if the onion isn’t “evenly cooked”? Can you even tell the different between these two?^
^All of these thoughts are reasons #45-47 why I should never try to cook in the same kitchen as Alton Brown.
I’ll put my stubbornness aside for the moment, to continue showing you the path to a fabulous risotto. [And yes, it really was good. But considering you start by caramelizing mushrooms in olive oil…well, how could it NOT taste good?]Although I was reprimanded for first trying to crowd the pan, and then trying to stir too often, we ended up with some VERY tasty mushrooms.Mmmm…how did I ever hate these things? [Maybe because my first experiences with them as a small child did not involve such intense caramelization?]Now, you can’t make risotto without butter. I mean, I guess you could…but risotto on principle is not something especially “healthy” so why would you want to?Get those onions caramelizing…and smelling absolutely decadently divine!While those were working, I was told to “grate as much cheese as [I wanted].”Perhaps I got a little carried away with the microplane?Once the onions are cooked to perfection, deglaze with a little white wine.And then stir in the arborio!Contrary to popular belief, my personal Alton Brown impersonator told me I didn’t actually have to keep stirring the whole time.*
*The Hallelujah chorus came out after that one. Y’all know I can get lazy in the kitchen.Simply add in warmed vegetable (or chicken) broth (or stock)* a bit at a time, stirring fairly regularly…
*If you are Alton Brown, this would have been pulled from the freezer where you stored it after making it from scratch. If you are Miss Smart, this would be warmed up on the stove after having been poured out of a can or a box.
…and checking to see if it needs more liquid by “parting the Red Sea.”You might even have time to stop and sip a mojito. [If you’re 21 years or older of course.]Eventually the rice will cook up and soften.At which point you make it go from tasting like rice cooked in butter and broth to tasting like richly decadent, perhaps I’ll give up all thoughts of trying to maintain my current weight, risotto.

Stir in your prepared mushrooms…
…and of course, that punch of sharp Parmesan cheese.I mean, what’s another half stick of butter, really?

Squeeze on some lemon juice for a bit of ‘zip’And of course…a drizzle of truffle oil! [I was too excited about this apparently to take a picture. :)]

Perfection in a plate of rice.“I think we should go ahead and add some leftover duck confit, what do you think?”
I think you need to stop cringing when you watch me chop an onion, Mr. Brown.

Because even a day (or two…or three) after…
…I think my first risotto turned out pretty darn well. :)

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