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Everything Summer Risotto

August 16, 2008

Risotto closeup

I think it’s pretty much official that risotto is my go-to dish whenever I’m cooking celebratory meals for others. It’s easy and impressive, and I can talk and sip wine during the endless stirring process. So when I had the chance to steal the kitchen away from my little brother and make dinner for the family, risotto was a sure bet. Of course, I didn’t steal the kitchen entirely away from my brother, and with both of us throwing ideas and ingredients around, this risotto ended up a surprisingly delicious hodge-podge of deliciousness: bacon, mushrooms, leeks, green beans, manchego cheese, basil, parsley, chives, and homemade chicken stock flavored with fresh thyme and oregano. Served with a big Caesar salad (with Patrick’s homemade balsamic Caesar dressing) and goat cheese crostini, this was a perfect, summery dinner to share with my family on my first night home.

My brother is something of a culinary whiz (pretty unusual for a 19-year-old kid) and I think this is the first time he’s actually let me take the lead in the kitchen. Of course, I think it stressed him out a little bit to see someone else handling his knives.

Patrick in the kitchen

But I’m grateful that he managed to take it in stride. I think this might be the first time I’ve cooked dinner for my family since the horribly over-salted black bean sauce disaster of 2001.

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I love the way risotto can be a basic background for anything you want to add. Much like my other addiction, pizza, it’s a blank slate just waiting for whatever you want to throw at it…like Jackson Pollack…ok, my metaphors are getting kind of ridiculous, so I’ll just get to the cooking.

Patrick made chicken stock in the afternoon, so we used that, and flavored it while it simmered with some fresh thyme and Mexican oregano. We started off the risotto with one of God’s greatest gifts to the culinary world: bacon.

Cooking up the bacon

I understand that there are some religions that go so far as to prohibit the eating of bacon. I think I want to find the religion that is instead centered around eating bacon, you know, makes it a sacrament. Is there a religion like that? Can I invent one? Who’s with me?

Anyway. Once the bacon has crisped up a bit, remove it from the skillet to a separate bowl. Add about a tablespoon of butter to the bacon-y skillet (if you need it; if the bacon released enough fat, forget the butter), and throw in the mushrooms. Salt them a bit, and let them sit for about four minutes, so they get nice and browned, before stirring. Continue the cooking for another three minutes or so, then throw in just a bit of warm chicken stock to deglaze the pan a bit and let the mushrooms soak up some of the juices. Remove the mushrooms to the same dish with the bacon, and set aside.

Leeks in the risotto

Add another pat of butter to the skillet (or some olive oil), and add the leeks and some garlic. Saute the leeks for a few minutes, until they are nice and tender, and then add the arborio rice to the skillet (probably about a cup or a cup and a half). Saute the rice for a few minutes, until it is transparent around the edges, and then stir in about three-quarters of a cup of wine. Then begins the endless stirring. Stir the rice with a wooden spoon (metal spoons or tongs will cut the grains and release too much starch or something), stirring gently until the liquid is absorbed. Then start adding chicken stock, a bit at a time, stirring, stirring, sipping wine, stirring, tasting, stirring. When the risotto starts to get creamy, but is still a bit tough, stir in the green beans (chopped to about inch-length pieces). Stir. Taste. Stir. When the risotto is creamy and the grains have just a small amount of bite in the center, you are done! Stir in about a cup of manchego cheese, the mushroom and bacon mixture, about a half cup of parsley, and a small handful each of basil and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste, and you are set.

Mushroom and Green Bean Risotto

Thanks again, Patrick, for relinquishing the stove. Now when are you going to let me use the Kitchen Aid mixer?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Crimson permalink
    August 18, 2008 7:38 pm

    I am with you on the bacon issue. I wish your grandma brought me a case of bacon. Mmmmm.

  2. Patrick permalink
    August 24, 2008 8:06 pm

    Ohh that risotto was so good. We didn’t make bread or do anything cool with the mixer when you were out, next time you are out (which should be soon) we’ll make something good with it. Oh i got the meat grinder too, so maybe some sausage :)


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