Monday, August 22, 2011

Perfect Old School Risotto

Okay, I'm back. The past few weeks have been fairly - if pleasurably - hectic, what with house guests, visiting family, etc., so I haven't had much time to type things up. Since I'm starting coursework for my PhD (YESSSSS!) in a couple of weeks, there's also the whole "back to school" thing looming on the horizon, which may mean a little less cooking/blogging for awhile. I'm hoping to be sufficiently organized to do a lot of food prep on the weekends, and revert to my wonted once-a-week posting schedule. We'll see how that goes, but it's probably safe to expect lots of vaguely food-related references to Chaucer, British modernism, and gothic fiction; the possibilities seem limitless!

But for today, let's just Be Here Now, shall we? Here we have a simple, classic, saffron-infused risotto, just like Mama used to make. (Of course, my Mama never actually made risotto; she also looked nothing like the fine lady in the picture, who seems to have included shrimp, which would never happen. But you take my point.) This was, without exception, the best damn risotto I have ever made, and is loosely based on a version found while Googling "best classic risotto" or something. I stress the "loosely," because the model I chose to adapt insisted that the magic ingredient for a perfect risotto is - wait for it - bone marrow. Yes, you read that correctly. Now that you've got the old gag reflex back under control, I'll spare you the typically swoony, masturbatory, self-satisfied foodie rhetoric that accompanied this assertion, and just say that a few tablespoons of olive oil accomplished exactly what was required, without anyone's carcass being hacked apart. As my partner put it: "Gee, and to think I never even missed the bone marrow!"

And so, without further ado, I give you:

Perfect Old School Risotto
~ 5 cups stock (I'm addicted to Better Than Bouillon's No Chicken flavor)
~ 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 large onion, chopped
~ 2 cups Arborio rice
~ 1 cup dry white wine
~ Salt to taste (depending on the saltiness of your stock)
~ 1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley
~ 2 tbsp. Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)
~ Fresh black pepper

~ Pour the stock into a pot and place over medium-high heat. Keep it very hot while you cook the risotto, but be careful to reduce heat if it comes close to a boil.
~ Toast the saffron (NB that this only takes a few seconds, and will make you feel totally cheffy!). Just place it in a metal spoon, and set it over a low flame to toast until fragrant. Add the toasted threads to the simmering broth.
~ In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion over medium heat until softened but not browned, about 7-10 minutes. Depending on how salty your stock is, you may or may not want to add a teaspoon of salt at this point.
~ Add 1/2 cup of stock, and stir until mostly evaporated.
~ Turn the heat to medium-high, and add the rice. Stir constantly for a couple of minutes, until the grains are coated and giving off a toasty aroma.
~ Pour in the wine, stirring constantly until it has been absorbed.
~ Ladle in about a cup of the stock, and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Continue this way until all of the stock has been added and the rice is creamy, but still has a bit of a bite to it.
~ Stir in the chopped parsley, the Earth Balance, and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix thoroughly, remove from heat, and serve immediately. We had ours as an accompaniment to a huge pan of eggplant parm, for the perfect Italian dinner. Abundanza!

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