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I love Food. Cooking it. Eating it. Experiencing it. As a result, that's what this blog has evolved into: A journal of my gastronomical journeys abroad, as well as my culinary creativity at home. I hope you enjoy what I have to say, and I'd love to hear your comments... Cheers!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

call it RICH-sotto

I've been on a major risotto kick lately. You may even call it a bender. No doubt about it, I have risotto on the brain these days...

The more I ponder the wonders of this classic Italian dish, the easier it becomes to understand why one could so quickly become addicted to it on a number of levels... but I can only speak for myself:

  1. Risotto is authentic. Dig into your grandmother's grandmother's cook books, and you'd find at least one recipe for the stuff. It's multigenerational, Old World cooking.

  2. Risotto is adaptable. The base of your risotto should always remain constant: shallots/onions, arborio rice, white wine, stock/broth of your choosing, cheese (preferably, parm). But the rest is blissfully left to your wildest imagination. Lobster, mushrooms, corn, bacon, butternut squash... just about any ingredient within reason can find a home in risotto. It's the Ellis Island of Italian eating.

  3. Risotto is... wait for it... easy. Wait a minute -- did I just write that? Don't you have to pore over your stove top, plodding, coaxing, conjuring the ingredients to get the desired effect just right?? In a word: NO. I am no expert, but any risotto dish I've made takes no more than 30 minutes... AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO CONSTANTLY STIR!!! All risotto needs is a little love and attention. Don't let it soak up the liquid completely; give it the ol' wooden spoon swirl now and then, and your dish will come to life before your very eyes.

  4. And maybe the best of all: Risotto makes you feel like a chef. Yes, while the components and the execution are not death-defying, I still always get that satisfaction of knowing that this could be as close to restaurant-quality fare as I'll ever get in my home kitchen. There's a truth I find in making risotto; a balance of pride and humility. This is good, honest cooking.

For my money (and taste), I rarely measure out ingredients, but it usually goes something like this for the risotto itself:

  • 2 diced shallots in olive oil in a large saute pan.

  • When softened, add 1c arborio rice, and mixing until coated.

  • Add 1c white wine (Chard, Sauv Blanc, even Pinot will do)

  • Once most of the liquid is absorbed add 1/2c doses of broth (I default to chicken), adding more each time the liquid is absorbed. Continue for approx. 20:00.

  • Add extra ingredients of your choice.

  • Stir in 1/2-1c grated Parmesan cheese.

Try these few samplings of add-ons. I've recently made them all, with great fanfare...

  • Baby Bella
  • Corn and Bacon

  • Zucchini and Roasted Sweet Peppers
  • Butternut Squash and Wild Mushrooms

At it's best, it's creamy and comforting; rich and rewarding; savory and simple. It's...

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