Carb Overload!

Risotto was one of the first “ambitious” dishes I attempted, and I’m quite proud of myself to say that it has now moved into the category of “easy weeknight meals.”  Its so versatile and in my mind, the perfect comfort food: warm, creamy, and satisfying0–but without the guilt of knowing those mashed potatoes have a stick of butter in them. Introducing the liquid gradually into the grains draws our their starch and creates its own creamy goodness, without a speck of butter or cream. (Although it never hurts).

I made your basic risotto last night. Camera battery was recharging, so no pics–consider this a bonus recipe, I’m getting to the good stuff, I promise.

Basic Risotto
from…me (makes about 3 cups)

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 c. arborio rice
  • approx. 3 cups chicken broth

Method (i use that word loosely)

  • Saute onion in oil over medium heat 3-4 until translucent and starting to brown. I use either a 1-quart pot or a 12-in skillet (with high sides).
  • Add rice. Saute until lightly toasted.
  • While your onions and rice are toasting, bring  your broth up to a light simmer. Keep it warm and slightly simmering.
  • Add 1 cup liquid to rice. Stir continuously until all liquid is absorbed.
  • Add another cup of liquid. Stir and let bubble. Stir every few minutes. (Make sure the rice isn’t burning on the bottom.)
  • After all that liquid is absorbed, add some more. Stir, let bubble, stir. You’ll see the starchy goodness start to form. Add a palmful of salt (a girl’s palm. not a large man’s. call it a heavy tablespoon)
  • Repeat the liquid-adding, stirring, and bubbling until the rice is cooked through and creamy. The whole process will take about 30 minutes.  If you run out of stock, use warm water–not more stock (it will be too salty).

Now, this is where you get to get…creative. Last night, I added about 3/4 grated Parmesan to the whole batch. It gave it a great nutty, rounded flavor. (Oh I also added a whole mess of black pepper).  For my individual serving, I topped it with some leftover greens from the tilapia salads.  I love warm, slightly wilted greens. This was an herb-y salad mix that had some beet greens and dill in it that gave some great kick to the risotto. Yum! And now i have a whole bunch of basic Parmesan risotto that can be dressed up any which way I want the rest of the week.  What kind of things work well in a dressed-up risotto? Funny you should ask.

My very first risotto was this guy–it’s definitely a more involved recipe, especially on a weekenight, but it really is worth it.  When Manfriend and I first started courting I made this dish, and my long-time roommate..lets call her Slow Motion…said, “I want to be your manfriend so you make this for me!” [insert foot stomp] It really is a foot-stomping worthy, woo-inducing (hello you have 3/4 of a bottle of champagne left over) dish. How fitting its from the ample bosom of the food network herself, Giada. And from a segement called “Date Night” no less. And so, I give you, Champagne Risotto

Champagne Risotto

from Giada De Laurentiis

a little baby picture from food network.

a little baby picture from food network.

Ingredients

  • 4 thin slices prosciutto
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 12 asparagus spears, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
  • 3/4 cup Champagne
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the slices of prosciutto on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake until the prosciutto slices are almost completely crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes. The slices will crisp up even more as they cool. Reserve for garnish.

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Blanch the asparagus in the chicken stock for 2 minutes. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon. Set the asparagus aside and keep the chicken stock at a low simmer.

In another medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallot and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and stir to coat in the butter. Continue toasting the rice, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes more. Add the Champagne and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Remove from the heat. Gently stir in the asparagus, remaining butter, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Spoon the risotto into serving dishes and garnish by breaking the crisp prosciutto into smaller pieces over the top of the risotto. Serve immediately.

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