Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Having some free time tonight for the first time in a while, I decided to make a batch of tomato sauce. Once I got everything out, I decided that in fact I had no interest at all in making tomato sauce. It usually takes four or five hours when I make it, and I didn't want to be up until midnight just to not eat anything before I went to bed.
Instead, I decided to make risotto, which I don't make nearly enough because Mickey is a curmudgeon and doesn't like it. That doesn't offend me - she doesn't like any risotto, not just mine - but it does mean I don't make it all that often. Tonight would be different!
My recipe is a pretty basic one that I got from my father who in turn got it from his mother. The only remotely exotic ingredient it calls for is porcini mushrooms, which I imagine you can find in any store that sells specialty ingredients. I bet Garden of Eden or Fairway around here has some, but I tend to get mine, along with things like parmigiano reggiano and semolina flour, up at Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.
Anyway, on to the risotto recipe!
1 medium onion, diced
7 tablespoons of butter - hell, basically a stick
A few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of arborio fine rice. You can use a little more if you want to make more - this will make 2-4 servings
About 30 oz chicken stock - this is about two of the regular-sized cans if you're buying broth
1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese.
A handful of dried porcini mushrooms
Place the mushrooms in about a cup of water and soak for 20-30 minutes prior to starting. I usually do this first and just let them soak while I get everything ready and dice the onion. Some people don't like the large bits of mushroom so they dice it up first, but I don't mind it and I just keep it as is.
In a small pot, start heating the chicken broth. Just set it to a low heat and forget about it for a while.
In a large pot, heat up the olive oil and about 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion and sautée until translucent. This is how 90% of Italian recipes seem to start. You can add a little dry white wine if you like.
When the onion is ready, add the rice and stir it up well so that it's all coated with butter and oil.
Add the mushrooms, including the water it was soaking in. Stir everything up and add a ladle-full of chicken broth.
Now comes the somewhat-tricky-but-not-really part of making risotto. You're going to slowly add broth and stir until the rice soaks it all up. It takes a few minutes for each ladle, and you want to keep the risotto cooking at a low enough heat that it's just barely beginning to boil. Stir, stir, stir, making sure nothing's sticking to the pot. Keep slowly adding broth and stirring until it's absorbed. Most, if not all, of the broth should be gone in about 20 minutes.
Towards the end, start testing the rice to see if it's al dente. You don't want it to be completely done, but just about.
Once it's ready, put in the rest of the butter (about half a stick) and half of the cup of cheese and start stirring to combine it all.
Spoon on to plates or bowls and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan.