Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Rare and Wily Risotto

The only time I've ever eaten risotto was over 10 years ago. Friends took us to a nice restaurant and I thought I'd impress my tablemates by ordering some exotic dish that included wild rice risotto. It was, to use highly-technical jargon of the gourmand, gross. I figured risotto was just one of those foods that I'd have to grow accustomed to . . . but I've never again been willing to eat a spoonful of moldy sand. WHICH HASN'T BEEN DIFFICULT, considering no one I know eats risotto, let alone serves it to company.

Last week, I put the kids to bed, crawled into my own, and fired up the Hulu to watch my guilty pleasure: Food Network Star. I watched as Wolfgang Puck threw down his napkin in disgust, picked up his plate, and trotted into the kitchen to show a student chef how to make a proper risotto. His advice was to use WARM chicken stock until the consistency of the risotto was nice and CREAMY. What? Huh? Puck's risotto looked nothing like the tepid brown pebbles I had been served. Had I been deceived somehow?

Over the years, I've watched many cooking shows. It seems like the one thing that TV cooks have in common is serving their masterpieces "over a bed of risotto." Maybe it's time for me to give it a second try.

So I bought a container of Arborio Italian-style rice. It was just sitting there on the grocery shelf next to all the other brands of rice, like it wasn't some fancy foreign gross-tasting rice.

I cooked it up, served it with some barbecue salmon and corn on the cob, and guess what? EVERYONE loved it and asked for seconds—even the twins! Well, maybe not my 13-year-old who declared she doesn't like fish OR rice . . . before even touching her dinner. When creating the next X-Men film, the screenwriters really should give one of the mutants my daughter's superpower: the amazing ability to know what something tastes like without ever taking a bite.

If you're feeling adventurous, try risotto. It really wasn't hard to make at all, other than having to stir constantly (but that's why you had kids, right? Call one of 'em into the kitchen and make him or her stir while you prepare the rest of the meal). Here's the recipe I used, sans white wine.

Dinner last night: barbecue salmon, risotto, corn on the cob

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:


Unknown said...

I'm so excited! I just put arborio rice on my grocery list and I'm making this ASAP. I, too, tried risotto once and was repulsed, and so automatically flipped past any recipes or menu options involving "the R word". I hope my family likes it as well as your did!

Katherine said...

I'm actually a huge fan of risotto. I make it as often as I can, full of parmesan cheese and spinach. I'm glad you found non-pebbly risotto.

Unknown said...

I sent a recipe to your hubs. Also on my cooking site. You can also use non alcoholic wine and it tastes good too :)

LisaDay said...

Kids do seem to have that mutant superpower. I like risotto. I have made it, too, but it seems like a lot of work. I would rather order it.


Mother Mayhem said...

I think that may be my superpower as well! ROFL

I have watched Gordon Ramsey burst a blood vessel many times over some amateur chef's risotto. ;o)

Amy said...

I just started making risotto last year in my electric pressure cooker. I'm not brave enough to make it on the stove. Gordon Ramsey would probably call me a Donkey!

Liz Mays said...

I've got to try that. My sister keeps telling me that it's really, really good, but I have yet to taste it.

Karen M. Peterson said...

I love a good risotto. I had no idea it was all technical.

Leann said...

I too am a foodnetwork junky. I have also been known to watch Hell's Kitchen. And after a couple of seasons of watching Chef Ramsey yell at cooks who could not cook risotto I decided to give it a try. The family loved it! What I can't figure out is why none of these cooks on TV can seem to make it!