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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Daring Cooks: Risotto

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was brought to us from Eleanor ( and Jess ( and they shared with us some wonderful recipes for the heart warming comfort food - Risotto!  The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

I've only made Risotto one other time - alla milanese (pretty simply prepared, but with saffron to make it a little yellow, and usually served as a side dish with osso buco). The Husband ended up not liking it and at that time I thought it was because of the saffron - the recipe called for a whole tsp, and even though I skimped, it seemed to overpower the dish with this... dark, musty, saffrony flavor.. which turns out, we are not huge fans of. It doesn't bother me as much as The Husband, though.

I was excited to try risotto again and bought another $6 package of fancy risotto rice from Kroger. This time I was going to skip the saffron and go with a more familiar flavor - wild mushrooms. I know we love porcini mushrooms with steak so I thought that would be great in this dish too.

Also, part of the challenge was to use your own homemade stock for the risotto. So on a weeknight, I tried a new recipe for making stock - roasting chicken drumsticks (was my cheapest option) with aromatic veggies until nice and brown, and then covering with water and simmering for a few hours until a great broth was formed. I added some parsley and additional onions, celery and carrots into the bath, as well. After that, I strained everything and had my very own chicken stock ready for the risotto I'd be making the next night!

The broth ended up really jelly-like which is a great characteristic of good stock and I was able to get it to liquid form by quickly microwaving the stock, as needed. I follow the directions for a full batch of risotto, and I used a mixture of the water that I used to rehydrate my porcini mushrooms, plus my homemade chicken stock, to moisten the risotto while cooking. Risotto rice is great because as it cooks, it gets creamier and creamier and doesn't typically require the addition or cream or cheese to get that wonderful homey consistency. Mine wasn't the creamiest but it was still pretty good. It took a long time of periodically adding broth to the rice and stirring, then adding more broth, until the rice was finally done. I had sauteed up some button mushrooms and added some chopped fresh parsley and shaved parmesan to finish the dish. We were starving since we had gotten home from work, went to the gym for an hour, and now were eating after 9pm on a Tuesday night... not ideal, but the promise of a great dish was keeping us alive.

Well... bummer. The Husband didn't like this risotto either! As soon as I added the white wine, I noticed the rice had the same musty, dark, "saffrony" flavor we didn't quite like the last time I made risotto.... all this time I was blaming saffron, and I think it comes down to the fact that The Husband really doesn't like white wine in rice. Really, what's there not to like about flavored rice? I am totally going to trick The Husband and make this again, skip the white wine though, and make sure he knows that he too can like risotto! As of right now, I think it is banned from the kitchen and I still have a huge container of rice!

Since we're eating healthy, I didn't do any deep fried risotto balls, or arancini that others were making, so I brought in the remaining risotto to work and fed it to my Italian coworker who absolutely loved it. Thanks to Jess and Eleanor for a great challenge and I look forward to trying risotto again!

Here is the base recipe for the risotto we followed (and we allowed to add our own variation):
Risotto Base Recipe

olive oil 2 fluid oz 60 ml
1 small onion, quatered
rice 14 oz 400g
Any type of risotto rice will do. I use Arborio but the recipe itself says Vialone Nano. Another to look for is Carnaroli.
white wine 2 fl oz 60 ml
chicken or vegetable stock , simmering 2 pints 1 L


Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavour the oil then discard. (We diced ours and left it in as we like onion).

Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.

Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.

Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width (about an inch or two). Don't actually stick your finger in, it will be hot. Just eye it off.

Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.

Repeat Step 5 making sure to leave aside approximately 100 ml. of stock for the final step. .

Repeat, save 100ml for the final stage.

Once you are at this point, the base is made. You now get to add your own variation.

1 comment:

  1. Your wild mushroom risotto turned out gorgeous, even though you didn't flip over it. As you very well could be the saffron that's giving it that flavor you don't like. A tad too much, as in half a pinch as you crunch it, and it tastes like medicine lol