Don’t mess with perfection

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November 9, 2009

9:22 AM

The lesson I’ve learned this week while trying to make an easier risotto recipe — if making it easier actually causes you more trouble — don’t mess with it!

Risotto isn’t even terribly difficult, but in my search for a cheaper alternative to chicken or vegetable stock, I tried three different ways, and all three times I failed. Lesson learned.

The following is _the_ fool-proof way to make a delicious bowl of risotto, a simple Italian rice dish that has to be made with arborio rice because of its creamy texture when combined with liquids.

You can use water instead of stock but there is definitely something lacking. It’s not like rice has a very complex flavor. Risotto isn’t exactly a thirty minute meal but, like I said, it gets an “E” for easy.

You can experiment with what you add to it, too: anything from asparagus, spinach, sweet potatoes, ham, bacon, chicken — just cook it separately and add it in for the last five minutes or so. Or just leave it plain; it’s absolutely delicious (and filling) on its own.

• 1 chopped onion (even I think a whole onion looks like too much every time I make it, but when you’re done, it works, trust me!)
• 1/4 – 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
• 3 – 3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (you’ll want to keep it warm in a pot over the stove or quickly microwave it before adding it to the risotto)
• 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
• 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
• Salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, oil

• Heat about a tablespoon or so over medium heat, add crushed red pepper and let sit for thirty seconds.
• Add onions and cook until softened, about five minutes.
• Add the rice and, stirring all the while, let toast for about two or three minutes. This toasting gives the rice a nutty flavor.
• Add the white wine. It should be absorbed rather quickly, just a minute or two. While doing this, heat the stock.
• Add half a cup of stock at a time, letting the rice absorb each half cup in between additions. Usually about four or five minutes is all it takes. Continue until all the stock is gone; this should take about half an hour.
• You can check the done-ness of the risotto by whether or not the rice has lost its bite — this you don’t want.
• Stir in the parmesan cheese and serve!

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