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Roasted Vegetable Risotto, or: Risotto, Take Two

January 19, 2007

Roasted Vegetable Risotto

I figured that risotto was one of those foods with an undeserved reputation for being near impossible to get right. I thought that with some patience, and time, and attention to detail, I could definitely handle risotto. My first attempt proved that it was harder than I thought. That was several months ago, and while it was edible, even delicious, it was not really…right. It wasn’t creamy, the grains had too much bite, it wasn’t…heavenly.

After some research, and lengthy consultation with other risotto cookers, I decided to give it another go. My problems seem to have been that I cooked it much too quickly, at too high a temperature. I thought this time around, I’d go very, very basic. I still had about a pound of leftover roasted vegetables from Tuesday night’s chicken roasting, which would add a bit more interest to a basic risotto without affecting the actual risotto cooking process, thus giving me a chance to perfect my technique.

I think it still needs a bit more perfecting.

Once again, the risotto turned out delicious, and admittedly, a bit more creamy than the last batch. But each rice grain still stayed much to firm, almost uncooked in the center. I’m not sure–does old rice cook up less well? It has been hanging around my pantry for probably over three years. Are there certain types of arborio that are less good than others? Do I need to cook it even more slowly? I do think I have a pretty good basic recipe, but if any of you out there are master risotto cookers, perhaps you’ll be able to tell me where I’m going wrong.

Basic Risotto for two

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • about 2 1/2 c. chicken stock
  • 2/3 c. arborio rice
  • about 3/4 c. white wine
  • 1/2 c. parmesan

Put the stock in a small sauce pan over low heat, and bring to a simmer. Keep the stock over low heat, simmering, while you’re cooking up all the risotto goodness–you just don’t want to add cold stock into your hot pan.

Heat 1 T. butter and 1 T. olive oil in a large-ish skillet, over medium low heat. Add the shallot and garlic, both finely diced, and cook for a few minutes until they are soft and golden. Add the rice, and saute for about 3 minutes. The recipe I read told me to cook until it was translucent around the edges, but still opaque in the center. This seemed to take about 1 minutes, so I let it go a little longer (is this where the trouble is?).

Add about 1/3 cup of white wine. It will steam up a little, and deglaze the pan or something. Lower the heat to pretty low, and stir the rice until the wine is entirely absorbed.

This is when you start adding your stock, and cooking very, very slowly. I added about 1/2 a cup at a time, and stirred and stirred and stirred until all that stock was absorbed, only then adding a little more. I stirred and stirred and stirred, slowly, and with a wooden spoon, because I read that metal can cut the grains of rice. I stirred and stirred and stirred, for about half an hour or maybe a bit more even, and when I ran out of stock, and decided the rice wasn’t done yet, I started adding more white wine, a little at a time, stirring and stirring, until finally, I thought, finally, it looks pretty darned creamy.

Then I stirred in about 1/2 a cup of parmesan, and another tablespoon or so of butter, and it looked really creamy. I topped the whole thing off with the leftover roasted vegetables, which had been heated up on the stovetop, and I was pretty excited.

But it still wasn’t perfect.

I suppose it will just take more practice. I will have to perfect my technique. I will maybe buy some fresher rice. And if any of you have any helpful hints for me, I will welcome them with open arms.

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