It is Mangia Monday!!!
"The trouble with eating Italian food is that 5 or 6 days later you're hungry again."
-George Miller, British writer
Today I will be talking about Risotto!!
Are familiar with this dish? Then you know how tasty and versatile it is!
Never eaten risotto? Well, you are in for a treat!
To be called risotto, you must begin with the rice.
Normally, arborio or carnaroli rice is used. The grains of arborio and carnaroli rice are short and plump, have a high starch content and can absorb alot of liquid without becoming mushy. However, don't go crazy if you are unable to find either type. Any small, starchy grain, such as long grain rice (do not use minute rice), barley, or orzo (pasta), can be used to make a delicious tasting risotto (it just will not yield the same texture).
I like my risotto creamy and full of flavor, so I ALWAYS use arborio rice. In fact it is a staple in my pantry, I never use regular long grain rice anyways.
Many people have a misconception about risotto - they think it is hard to make. Well, it is very simple actually, just a bit time consuming, especially if you are making it for the first time. It is like riding a bike, once you make it, you will never forget.
Also, you may have had delicious risotto in a wonderful restaurant, but they do not have the time to stand over a stove and cook like you do at home. It may be a very tasty dish, but I can guarantee it will never be as rich and creamy as homemade!
I also recommend having a good stock on hand. One of my pantry staples is an organic chicken stock that I use on a daily basis. Having the stock on hand means I can whip up anything on a moments notice - more on that another time.
Bacco, tabacco e Venere riducono l'uomo in cenere (Wine, women, and tobacco can ruin a man)
The following is a take on a recipe I found years ago. I tailored it to fit a working women's need for an easy, yet tasty, nutritious meal!
I like my risotto very creamy so I usually use more stock than the recipe calls for, but you can adapt it as your taste allows. Also, I never use salt in anything, so if you must, you can add salt to suit your needs, however remember that the parmigiano-Reggiano cheese will add saltiness to the dish.
Parmesan Risotto with Chicken and Mushrooms
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 small red onion, minced
* 12 ounces of button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 16 ounces of arborio rice
* 1 cup chicken stock (keep extra on hand)
* 12 ounces frozen baby peas
* 1 medium rotisserie chicken (meat removed in small chunks)
* 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
* 1 stick butter
* Freshly ground pepper
1.) Heat a LARGE saute pan over high heat. (if you do not have one use a pot)
2.) When the pan is hot, pour in the oil and heat thoroughly.
3.) Add the onion to the pan and saute for 2- 3 minutes.
4.) Add the mushrooms to the pan and saute, DO NOT STIR, for about 3 minutes. (they will change color)
5.) Add the wine and cook until it has reduced by half. (approx. 4 minutes)
6.) Stir in the rice and mix well.
7.) Stir in the frozen peas.
8.) Add the chicken stock and bring mixture to a boil. (if your mixture seems dry you can add more as needed)
9.) Stir in the cheese and butter until rice is creamy.
10.) Add chicken to the pan and bring mixture back up to a boil.
11.) Season with pepper to taste.
I normally enjoy my meals with a glass of red wine and although I like many different varieties, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is my favorite. I may be partial since my Nonna Ida, father and father-in-law were born and raised there!!
This is the label I keep my wine cabinet stocked with.
Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo