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The True Story of C. and the Risotto

Until yesterday, I'd never cooked risotto before. C. always did it, diligently following directions off of the back of the risotto rice box, he said. He added in mushrooms and asparagus, and it was always amazingly good.

Yesterday, C. was caught in traffic on the M25, en route back from working Sunday, and, since we'd already bought everything we needed to cook risotto, C. suggested I go ahead. "Just follow the directions on the back of the box", he said. By the time he made it home, the preliminary onions were still slowly cooking away, not yet ready for the other ingredients. Eventually, they and the mushrooms were ready to proceed.

I got ready to measure out the rice with a scale, as most English recipes use scales. "Oh, I don't bother. It's too fiddly." He told me. "I just scoop out however much we usually do when we cook rice." Okay. No scales. A third of a cup apiece it is then.

"Which wine do you use?" I asked. "Wine?" "For the risotto." He shook his head. "Wine is for drinking."

So - since his always turned out so well - I skipped the wine and started cooking the grains of rice in the butter towards transparency. "How long does it take?", I asked him. "Oh, I never do that step. I just stick it in and move on to the stock." Rebelliously, I cooked them for a while anyways.

Twenty minutes later, we sat down with our visiting pittenweem to eat. It was delicious. But it wasn't the recipe on the back of the box.



( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 3rd, 2008 10:11 am (UTC)
this is the funniest post I have read in ages. I do the same thing as C. in fact, I once tried to give a friend a copy of a recipe for a soup that we were currently eating. She read it, looked at the soup and said: this isn't the same AT ALL. And she was right!

I wonder what this says about all the other times that I (and C?) think that I am following directions ... :)
Jun. 3rd, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
Yes! That was the one true and consistent piece of advice C. gave me at the beginning - add the stock gradually and don't leave it alone for very long. Constant tending yields good risotto.
Jun. 3rd, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
*noddle* little and often is the motto of adding stock to risotto. Best to keep the stock on a low flame so it is already at about the right temperature when you add it to the rice.

Jun. 2nd, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
For me the turning point in cooking risotto was buying a slightly more expensive brand that had instructions telling you to add the stock a little at a time rather than all in one go. Having then tried that with the usual stuff I buy I found it seemed to make a noticeable difference, so that's how I do it now.
Jun. 3rd, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
Yes, that made all the difference. Fortunately, both C. and the packaged advised me to do this.
Jun. 2nd, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
good for you! I have never made risotto: I find it really intimidating!
Jun. 3rd, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
The hard part is minding it. Don't leave it alone, and it's very straightforward.
Jun. 2nd, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)
One of my fridge magnets: "I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food."
Jun. 2nd, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
Sounds like need to ask Valter Crema give C a risotto lesson next time you are in VE.
Jun. 3rd, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness. You have such vision! What an amazing idea!
Jun. 3rd, 2008 08:38 am (UTC)
My rice never goes transparent but I do think pre-frying and adding water a little at a time (hi major clanger) are key. A decent heavy bottomed pan doesn't hurt or some cheap dry sherry to deglaze with if you overdo the pre frying .
Jun. 3rd, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
I gave up trying to get the rice to transparency after about 10 minutes and just kept going with the recipe. I don't know if that time spent in butter helped the final flavor, but I doubt it hurt.

I'm not sure we have any sherry in the house, cheap or otherwise. Hmm.
Jun. 3rd, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
Risotto is fun and easy to make. I think roughly half the food I had whilst I was in Siward Street was risotto. Risotto really is one of those meals where rummaging in the fridge to see what you've got can come up with some very cool recipes.

(Ask TR & RB regarding my risottos. I'm pretty certain they got fed up of them rather quickly, but still preferred them to my chillis ;-)
Jun. 4th, 2008 04:35 am (UTC)
Awesome. :-)

Both of us have cooked risotto, and we've found the box to be of limited use.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )