Ever since I began watching Hell’s Kitchen years and years ago, I’ve been hearing about risotto. It happens to be one of Gordon Ramsay‘s favorite dishes. If you aren’t familiar, risotto is a rice dish cooked in a broth to a creamy consistency. From what I gather, the consistency of the perfect risotto is supposed to be equal to that of lava. If you were to place some on a plate and then angle that plate downward, a good risotto would slowly roll towards the ground.
There’s a lot that goes into making this specific type of food. First, the type of rice used matters. Then, the amount of liquid added to the rice as it’s being cooked matters and finally, the level of agitation given to the rice during the entire process matters. It’s not something you can set and forget. Each specific detail has been recognized or crafted for a particular reason. And that reason ultimately gives you something that’s creamy and flavorful and that’s unlike any other rice dish you’ve ever eaten.
Laura tells me that I’ve tried risotto years ago. I’m not sure I remember back that far, so when I put a recipe together yesterday, it was all new to me. Now, I’ll tell you – I haven’t had much luck cooking rice on a stove top throughout my life, so I was a bit skeptical regarding what I was in store for, but Cook’s Country didn’t let me down. They gave me a really easy method of risotto preparation to follow and both Laura and I agreed that it was delicious. We actually ate it as our main course last night. And to top that, I’m making the same thing again tonight. Partly because I have some extra ingredients that I don’t want to go bad and partly because the dish was that good. This time though, I’m modifying the recipe to increase the amount of vegetables. Since I don’t have to take any photos, I’m going to see how far I can push things.
Before I entered the kitchen last night, I wanted to learn a bit about what I was working with. So, I did as any good aspiring home cook would do. I asked Google “Why do I need to stir Risotto so much?” Google answered me by listing a few websites it thought would give me the answer I sought. I read through the sites and settled on the reasoning of one in particular. You can check it out if you’d like.
I learned a lot from this one web page. I learned why certain variations of rice are preferred over others as well as why specific levels of liquid are added at particular intervals. I also learned what the best consistency of the dish is. I highly suggest you read through the above resource.
The recipe I used from Cook’s Country is called Risotto Primavera and, as I mentioned above, full of flavor and satisfaction. What I particularly enjoyed about it was the use of asparagus, parsley, mushrooms and parmesan. By the time I got to adding the parmesan, the dish as ultra creamy. After I added the cheese, it was simply perfect.
1 3/4 Cups Sodium Free Vegetable Broth
1/2 Cup Water
4 Teaspoons Pure Olive Oil
3 Ounces White Button, Cremini, Shiitake or Portobello Mushrooms, Sliced
Regular Table Salt
Ground Black Pepper
1 Small Onion, Chopped
1/2 Cup Arborio Rice
3 Ounces Fresh Asparagus, Cut into 1/2-inch Pieces
1/4 Cup Frozen Peas
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
6-8 Pieces of Shaved Parmesan Cheese
4 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, Chopped
1 Tablespoon Butter, Unsalted
2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
It is of the utmost importance that you do all your prep work upfront. The last thing you want to be doing is grating Parmesan cheese while you’re supposed to be stirring the risotto. For this recipe, I did as much as I could.
I tried to take a photo that would show everything necessary to put this recipe together. I’m sure something is left out, but you get the picture.
After all the ingredients are measured out and prepared, go ahead and bring both the 1 3/4 cups of broth and the 1/2 cup of water to a simmer over medium heat in a saucepan on your stove top. I used a small 1 1/2 quart saucepan and the high setting to bring everything to a boil and then I turned the heat to medium. Once the liquid was simmering, I covered the saucepan and turned off the heat. This step is meant to merely heat the liquid so steps in the recipe flow more smoothly later on.
In a larger 3 quart saucepan, add 2 teaspoons of pure olive oil and bring to a shimmer over medium high heat. Add the 3 ounces of sliced mushroom and 1/4 teaspoon of regular table salt and cook, while stirring, for a few minutes until they lightly brown. You can cover the saucepan towards the beginning of this step to hasten the process of the mushrooms releasing their liquid, but you’ll want to uncover the pan towards the end to allow the steam to escape. The goal is to brown the mushrooms and dehydrate them somewhat as well.
When the mushrooms have finished, remove them from the pan and set aside in a bowl for later use.
With the same 3 quart saucepan now empty and back over medium heat, go ahead and add the remaining 2 teaspoons of pure olive oil. Then, once that’s shimmering, add another 1/4 teaspoon of regular table salt and all of the chopped onion and cook for a few minutes until the onions begin to soften.
Once the onions are soft, add the 1/2 cup of rice and cook for one or two minutes, stirring constantly, until each piece turns somewhat translucent. Don’t go nuts on this step. You’re merely toasting the rice lightly.
Add Broth & Asparagus
Now, take 1 1/2 cups of broth from the small saucepan and add it to the larger saucepan where the rice and onion are. Bring the heat down to medium-low and cover the pan. Let simmer for 12 minutes untouched.
After 12 minutes of simmering, the rice should have absorbed almost all the liquid. At this point, add the 3 ounces of cut asparagus to the saucepan.
Stir it in, cover and cook for 2 more minutes over the same heat.
Add More Broth & Peas
After the asparagus have cooked for 2 minutes, uncover the pan and add another 1/2 cup of broth and cook for 3 minutes over medium-low heat. You’ll need to stir constantly from here on out. After 3 minutes have passed and most of the liquid has been absorbed, go ahead and add the remaining 1/4 cup of broth to the saucepan. Also, add the 1/4 cup of frozen peas.
Once the peas have been added, cook and stir for another 3 minutes over the same heat.
Add Remaining Ingredients
Remove the saucepan from heat. Add the mushrooms that were set aside and cover the pan again. Let sit for 2 minutes. After that time has passed, add the 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, the 4 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, the 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter and the 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Stir together thoroughly. Plate and add some shaved Parmesan to the center of the dish and serve.
The Final Product
I never knew a rice dish could taste so good. It’s nice when I take a bite of something and my eyebrows go up. Give this recipe a try. I think you’ll like it. It’ll most likely take you out of your comfort zone.
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