The Italian culture has such an eloquent way of making seemingly plain fare sound exotic. To wit: risotto, proscuitto, alfredo, rotini, antipasti, asiago, tagliatelle, gelato, polenta, cappuccino, calamari. If it’s a food that ends in a vowel, it’s worth at least one cursory visit to Wikipedia to discover its meaning and assess the feasibility, ease and celerity of making a particular highly edible comestible taste as good as it sounds.
Growing up eating rice and noodles (and the various accompaniments that go with both) left me with a desire for something more cross-culturally daring. Having discovered the alternative of pasta dishes in my early twenties, I’ve never looked back. I could “subsist” on pasta … and with over 650 types and shapes of pasta, it’s a statistically plausible statement to make.
Not surprisingly (with a few exceptions), I grew to regard rice and noodles as poor cousins to the versatility and possibilities that pasta presented. So when I became acquainted with risotto while indulging in evening nom noms at the River Rock Casino buffet last summer, the realization that rice could be so visually and gastronomically rendered for the eyes and palate came as a bit of a shock; it was truly a watershed/V8/eureka moment.
I could say that risotto is spiced rice with everything but the kitchen sink, but let’s not boil it down to such plebian terms. It’s a surfeit of sauce and good taste. Although true gourmands may frown upon it, I learned how to make my first risotto this month with the help of a Breville Risotto Plus 4-quart sautéing slow cooker. It may fly in the face of traditional Italian cooking, but it is the best way to avoid overcooking or burning risotto the first time you make it. Here’s my own twist on this age-old Italian favourite.
lilmisspoutine’s discovery risotto*
2 cups of arborio rice
Campbell’s cream of mushroom
8 cups chicken stock or water
diced chicken breast
thawed peas and carrots
sliced sweet/bell peppers
fresh smashed ‘n’ minced garlic
fresh minced onions
a teaspoon of butter
a dash of pepper
Add butter to a heated saucepan and heat for 1 minute. Sauté scallions until fragrant and/or brown as desired. Sauté chicken and then seafood in small batches and put aside. Cook veggies lightly and put aside. Gradually ladle a small amount of soup stock to the uncooked arborio rice, stirring constantly, and repeat additions of soup stock until rice has absorbed all the moisture and released its natural starches. To the steaming rice add butter, semi-melted cheese, and half a can of cream of mushroom soup and stir well. Let the entire concoction stand for 5 minutes, drizzle shallots on it, add a dash of pepper, and serve.
*So named for the items I was able to discover in the kitchen at the time. Risotto is great as a side dish but can also stand alone as an all-in-one meal. And, should there be any leftovers for the next day, you can turn them into crispy risotto cakes. Rice is nice. Happy risotto-ing!
- Leeks & Mushroom Risotto (nailpolishglitternpie.wordpress.com)
- Mushroom Risotto (thewordybaker.wordpress.com)
- Nigella’s Pasta Risotto with Peas and Pancetta (juliesfamilykitchen.wordpress.com)