Thursday, 8 March 2012

Risotto redemption

After my culinary crisis of last weekend, I decided to do something I rarely do...cook a recipe that I've done before. Tried. Tested. True.

Yes, so my epicurean ego was slightly damaged and needed assuaging. Nothing spells redemption quite like risotto. Or maybe it's just me. 

Being of Mennonite background, risotto used to be as unfamiliar to me as a pierogi is to an Italian. (Though the word does look suspiciously Latin!) The first time I heard of risotto was on Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen and it became my new Everest. I mean, how many times have you seen Gordon Ramsay slop around a risotto appie and then yell out one of the following: "It's RAW!!!" or "BLAND!" or "Overcooked! It's MUSH. Get the **** out of my kitchen!"

Somehow I got the idea that if I could make a good risotto I could honestly consider myself an amateur cook.

Now, on this International Women's Day, I must confess that the my very first risotto attempt was made while entertaining a (dear) friend, who tried to convince my husband that women belong at home and in the kitchen. So I will have to admit that on that particular occasion the risotto got stirred a bit faster than it should have, and was not a particularly relaxing experience.

However, that being said. The risotto did turn out, and I think the act of constant stirring actually calmed me down.

In fact, over the last couple years I've found that making risotto is an extremely relaxing and therapeutic process. It's lengthy, and I know it sounds weird, but the act of slowly adding stock, and stirring and stirring     is an ideal relaxant after a long day of work.

Ontario mushroom risotto

Mushroom mixture

1/2 cup diced onions
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups mushroom
2 cloves garlic (minced)

Saute the onions in 1/4 cup of butter. Add mushrooms and garlic. When slightly tender, add white wine and saute until wine is completely reduced. Set aside.


1 1/4 litre chicken stock
450 grams arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup diced onions
1/4 cup butter

Saute onions in butter. When onions are slightly soft, add rice and toast slightly. Add white wine and stir until absorbed. Continue to add stock at about 1/2 cup at a time; each time stirring slowly until the liquid is absorbed.

When all the stock has been added and absorbed, test the risotto. Some prefer it more al dente, although I like mine less "crunchy".

Add the mushroom mixture to the risotto and add seasoning. If you really want to be decadent, add 1/4 cup parmesan and stir until melted. YUM!

This is a HUGE recipe. Ideal for serving about 10 people, so adjust accordingly.

Because risotto is so time-consuming and attention-consuming, my favourite meat dish to serve it with is something that matches the classiness of the risotto, but is actually pretty easy.

Pesto-stuffed chicken breast wrapped in bacon

In the summer, I generally make my own basil pesto, but you can also buy basil pesto at any grocery store.

Simply slit the breast 2/3 open lengthwise, stuff with 1-2 teaspoons of pesto and then wrap the breast in bacon. For a leaner option, wrap in prosciutto. It's fewer calories, but the chicken will be a bit drier.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 40-45 voila!

Seriously people, is there a better combination on earth than mushrooms, bacon, and garlic????

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