So … Monday late morning, almost lunch time, and I’m fighting shy of a foul mood on account of the foul weather and realise there are going to be 4 of us for lunch today. I do not normally “do” lunch and that’s because it’s usually just me at home and so I tend to eat leftovers, or see what’s in the fridge and make a salad, or scrambled eggs, or some cheese or ham. And besides — who has time to cook lunch?
But there was a definite nip in the air today and this called for something hot to keep the rest of our busy day going. Home-maker’s dilemma? What to do, what to do, what to do? (say it fast enough and you’ll sound like an owl or a turkey).
The fride door, once opened, revealed the menace of its ajar state. Not much there. Not even a hint of leftovers. What to do, what to do , what to do? Wise owl suggestion was: make plain risotto.
My daughter was asking me just the other day: how do you make risotto? Is it very difficult to make? Is it true that you have to stand over it and stir forever?
And the answer, if you are my best friend in Canada, is : “Yes, you stand over the risotto and stir forever and it comes in very useful when you have an annoying friend over to dinner who will otherwise get in the way of your cooking and drive you nuts. You put them in charge of the risotto, impress upon them the importance of the ceaseless and regular rotatory movement, and bob’s your uncle, you’ve got them nailed”.
However, if you are cooking the risotto yourself, and for yourself and loved ones, at home, my answer is: be sensible. Stir when needed. And only when required. Risotto has been made by housewives and mamas with ten kids for hundreds of years ? Do you think they had time to stir and stir until they dropped? I don’t think so.
And now for today’s ingredients, meaning: having to make to with what you’ve got which, in my case was:
Carnaroli rice (the rice does have to be Italian for risotto, other rices do not work) = 500g enough for 4 people
Vegetable stock: 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 celery stick, 2 peppercorns : you plonk these in a stockpot with 2 litres of water and bring to the boil and get them cooking straight away, first thing ….. then go and fetch:
Enough olive oil to cover the entire bottom of the pan in which you are going to cook the ristotto
1 tablespoon butter
parmesan cheese and a cheese grater (5 tablespoons of grated parmesan or more will be required)
I also happened to have some mozzarella so I thought I would pop that in too …
After about 3-4 minutes, add the stock with a ladle (notice I didn’t bother using any wine for the very logical reason that I didn’t have any bottles of wine open! I told you, today was difficult in terms of leftovers!). So while the rice is cooking away and you are keeping a beady eye on it (NOT stirring) … it’s time to grate the parmesan cheese:
Then I went and got 4 eggs and the mozzarella … and then I beat the eggs. Then I went to fetch some butter and since by now the carrot had simmered nicely in the vegetable stock, I removed it from there and thought it would add colour to the risotto …
At this point, about 15 minutes have transpired since I started toasting the rice. I take a look at the rice and it looks as though it’s almost ready:
I have been adding ladle after ladle of the stock and giving it a stir each time. My wrist has hardly been fatigued … but now things get interesting, now I have to stay close to the rice until it is ready to be eaten …
I add the butter (stir until it is all melted) and switch off the heat. And then in fairly rapid succession, I add all the other bits, one at a time, stirring after each time, leaving the parmesan for last. (I forgot to mention that I added salt and white pepper to the rice at the very beginning … now is the time to taste and see whether more salt is required).
And yes … the end result was good. Just the thing for a bleak day with a nip in the air. And, may I add, a tad condescendingly, it constitutes a very balanced meal too. There are vegetables, carbohydrates, fats and protein in this dish … chew a raw carrot while you are cooking it for the lovely enzymes and at the end of the meal, bit into a nice crisp apple and we even make the raw food people happy!
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST THE PARMESAN :
just for the picky people (like I can be on occasion) : please note that risotto should be served on a flat plate …