I’ve tried to make Risotto before and each time I failed miserably. It always wound up coming out either a soupy mess, or a gummy pile of overly-sticky rice that lumped up on a fork. Risotto is tricky, probably because it’s so precise. It’s almost like baking (which I’ve already admitted I’m not good at either) and because I’m more of an experimental “eyeball and wing it” type of cook, it’s no wonder I was never able to hone in on the “Goldilocks” zone in which the Risotto came out just right.
However I recently stumbled across a great article on my Zite feed from Epicurious called The Only Risotto Recipe You’ll Ever Need. This article seems to distill it down to a simple base and lets you go from there. So I decided to give it another shot.
As the linked recipe says, I started with 2 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth and 4 cups of water brought to a boil and then lowered to a simmer. Then in a large pot I sautéed a 1/2 cup of finely chopped shallots in 2 tablespoons of butter on medium-high until they were soft. Added the Arborio rice and stirred for one minute. Added 3/4 of Chardonnay and stirred for another 2 minutes.
Now I think this is the part I kept screwing up in the past and I have to wonder if it’s the same mistake a lot of folks make when they attempt this dish. Instead of adding the water/broth mixture all at once, which I had done in the past, I added it in three smaller batches of 2 cups at a time. I waited until the Arborio had absorbed all the liquid before adding the next 2 cups, stirring often and then repeated a third time. Cooked for 20 minutes until the rice was soft and added 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 3 or 4 healthy grinds of black pepper. There’s a little bit of reserve liquid leftover in case it’s still a little dry, but I found out I didn’t need to utilize it.
Now the fun part. The article gave some suggestions, but I went my own way here. Folded in a whole filet of smoked salmon, some sautéed asparagus tips and a 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
As someone who’s wrecked a Risotto on more than one occasion I was pleasantly surprised by how well this came out. Even before folding in the extras, it was a creamy, well-balanced dish. Flavors melded beautifully and the texture was absolutely perfect.
This was a seriously great recipe and I’m thankful to the folks at Epicurious for posting because it really helped me get over the Risotto hump. The fact that the base is all you really need and there are endless combinations at that point means I plan on experimenting with some different flavors quite a bit in the future.
Tried to make your own Risotto? Have a favorite Risotto recipe? Leave a message in the comments section!
And remember… the food abides…
Rather than wallow in the fact that the Fall and Winter Beer seasons are over and slowly rationing out my dwindling stock of Marzens, Harvest Wheats and Pumpkin and Winter Ales I’ve given myself the task of trying more of what the other seasons have to offer with an open mind. For today’s New Beer Friday, I’m starting with the Wavemaker Amber Ale made by the boys over at Big storm Brewery right here in the Bay Area.
The Wavemaker pours a deep red with about half an inch of head (which unfortunately dissipated while I was trying to get the lights out on my lanai to turn on). There’s a significant toasty aroma which is rather pleasing.
The first pull brings a slightly sweet caramel and malt flavoring complimented by a very mellow citrus note with just the tiniest bit of spice. There’s a little bit of a bitter bite on the back end but it rounds out rather quickly. This is an expertly balanced amber ale; as dark as this beer is, it’s still remarkably light. This is the kind of beer I could drink outside on a hot summer day.
I’m digging the Wavemaker. It’s a very solid amber offering and enough of a kick in the pants to make me want to get my ass down to Big Storm’s tasting room over in Odessa, especially if I can get this stuff on draft.
Tried the Wavemaker Amber or any of Big Storm’s other brews? Leave a message in the comments section!
And remember… the food abides…