Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Elevating Rice

By far, the thing that we turn to the most for winter fare is risotto.  Not only is it a hearty dish, but there's something comforting and relaxing about making it.

Back when Offspring #2 was just a wee lass, it was kind of our 'thing' to do together.  I'd let her stir while I fussed around the kitchen with other things.  Even now, with her busy schedule, we still enjoy some mommy-daughter bonding, even if I'm manning the pan, and she's bent over the computer, furiously pounding out yet another paper.

This is a slight variation of a risotto I've been making for years.

Pear and Green Apple Risotto with Toasted Almonds

2 Tbs. butter, divided
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
4 cups (roughly) chicken stock, heated
1 small Granny Smith apple, diced
1 small pear, diced
1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

The only real trick to making risotto is getting everything set up first...

Pour chicken stock in saucepan and turn on low heat.  Meanwhile, put together your mis en place (as seen here).

And for me, at least, part of the ritual of making risotto is relaxing with a glass of wine.  So if that's how you roll, go ahead and pour now.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt 1 Tbs. butter and add olive oil.  When butter has started to bubble, add shallot and sauté for a minute or two and then add garlic.  Continue to cook and stir until shallot become translucent.  Add rice to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 - 3 minutes.  Add white wine.  Cook and stir until wine is almost evaporated, then add a ladleful of chicken stock.  Stir slowly (preferably with a slotted utensil of some kind) until chicken stock has almost evaporated.  Add another ladle of chicken stock and repeat. 

After about the 3rd or 4th ladleful, add the thyme, apple and pear.  Season with salt and pepper and continue adding in stock as before.  You're wanting a creamy consistency (sometimes I have to quickly open a can of stock or add a little water to the stock in the pan).  Once the rice has absorbed all the liquid it's going to take, add the last Tbs. of butter, the parsley and the cheese.  Stir until thoroughly combined.   Serve immediately topped with the toasted almonds.

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