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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My First (fullyfromscratch) Risotto

I've gone over one of life's biggest humps. I've made my first, fully-from-scratch risotto. And it was good.

This is dangerous territory, though, because risotto is one of those dishes that is never fully conquered; there are so many variations and combinations and permutations! This frustrates and excites my cooking mind at the same time, pitting my left brain against my right, my creativity vs. my tick-that-off-the-list-and-be-done-with-it-ness (a battle I'm familiar with as someone who has always loved math just as much as musical theatre). Anyway, that got a bit reflective. Sorry about that. Here is the evidence of my first risotto battle won.

Toasted Pecan, Courgette and Parmigiano Red Wine Risotto

(makes 2 main course portions)
2.5 cups unsalted chicken broth (or veg to make vegetarian)
1/2 cup water
1 medium courgette, chopped into 1/2 inch squares
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 small red onion, chopped
3/4 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry red wine (or white, really. I only had red so that's what I did.)
1/3 cup aged parmigiano, 1/4 cup chopped and the rest shredded for a garnish
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the broth and water to a boil in a small pot, then reduce to a simmer. While this is happening, you can toast up your pecans (tossed in melted butter and sea salt, 400ยบ oven for about 6 minutes). Chop them once they are cooled and chop up your 1/4 cup of cheese and your courgette.

Blanch the courgette in the hot liquid for about 2 minutes, removing the pieces with a slotted spoon to a cold water bath until cool, then draining it and setting it aside. Keep the broth at a simmer.

Heat the olive oil and 1 Tbsp of the butter in a heavy-bottom saute pan over medium heat. Fry up the onions until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir for about 1 minute.

Add the wine and stir until it's mostly absorbed, about 2 more minutes. You may have to reduce to medium-low heat to maintain a low simmer on the rice mixture. Ladle in a cup of the hot broth and stir in, cooking and stirring until absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add more broth by the ladle-full (about 1/2 cup each time) and stir until absorbed before adding more. Cook like this until the rice just gets tender and the sauce is very creamy (20–30 minutes).

Remove the rice from the heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese, the remaining butter and S&P to taste. Gently stir in all the courgette and 1/2 the pecans.

Cover your pan for about a minute and allow to sit. From here, thin out the rice with a bit of broth if necessary (I also put my mine over the heat for another couple minutes because I like piping-hot risotto). I've heard risotto should be of the consistency that, when scooped on a plate, it should spread out slowly (I thinned out the rice after the picture above). That's how it was served to us in Italy for sure!

Serve with a sprinkle of the remaining pecans and shaved parmigiano.

We had about 1/2 a portion left over, which I baked the next day covered in lots more cheese and with added courgette and it served as a side dish for that night's sausage dinner!

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