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08 March 2010

Oh! Risotto

I got a little distracted last week by a wonderful aubergine in coconut milk. Robert and Liliane, that's your fault, not that I'm complaining. I'm sorry to say, however, that aubergine in coconut milk does not photograph well at all. Not even in the fabulous natural lighting of my office window, where I take all these photos with my mobile phone camera. So you're getting the risotto.



It isn't as pretty as the pretty dirty rice, is it? Oh well. You can't have everything. I've been eating this for weeks now, in the continued chill of this seemingly endless winter. And why not? It's good, it's cheap, and it warms me up. And I need that.


Oh! Risotto

Ingredients
  • olive oil/butter
  • 1 onion, chopped so very very finely
  • 2 celery stalks, also chopped very very finely
  • 350 g (about 2 cups) risotto rice (I use Gallo, because I like the little chicken on the box it comes in 500g boxes)
  • 1 glass white wine
  • about 1,5 litres (about the same in quarts, or 6+ cups) stock (I use Marigold bouillon), HOT. It has to be HOT.
  • 3-5 tblsps grated parmesan (although I have been known to spike this with gruyère)
  • optional - about 100 grams lardons or a few slices of bacon, diced

My Method

In a large pot or saucepan with straight sides, heat olive oil and/or bit of butter and add onions and celery. Let get all soft and the onions golden, but do not burn. This may take longer than you want it to, but be patient.

Crank up the heat and add the rice, stirring so that the rice is coated with butter/oil. Let it really get good and coated. Add the white wine, cranking the heat up further so the wine boils away. Then, add some hot stock – about a cupful. (Most recipes will say something about a "ladleful" but I make the stock in a pyrex measuring jug and don't see why I need to dirty a ladle.) Stir everything around. The stock will boil and the rice will absorb it. Lower the heat a little, now, to about medium. You are going to add stock, a little at a time, and you don't want it to boil away too fast. Neither do you want it to take forever. What we're looking for here is a happy medium, simmering-yet-lively, level of heat.

Keep adding stock to the rice. You do not have to stir all the time, despite what others will tell you. They are mistaken, or have too much time on their hands. Stirring is good, and useful, but you can get away with stirring for a couple of minutes right after you add more stock (each time you add some), and towards the end of each round of absorption. In between, you can do something else (and it does help, I think, to be doing something else while the risotto's cooking. Otherwise it is very tedious. )

Repeat adding stock and stirring. You can add a peeled whole garlic clove to the pan, if you like, for more flavour.

While this is going on, fry the lardons or bacon. Get them nice and crispy. Drain off the grease.

The risotto should be done in about 20-30 minutes. The rice should be cooked through but still "al dente".

You may not use all of the stock, it depends on the consistency you prefer.

Add the lardons/bacon and the parmesan, keeping some of each to sprinkle on top if you like. Taste-test for salt and pepper.

I used to be tempted to add frozen peas to this, but the girls prefer the peas to be on the side, and I've come around to their way of thinking. What you want here is pure, unadulterated creamy risottoness.

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