Saturday, April 10, 2010

One Stir Risotto, The Non Carpal Tunnel Version


Ah, risotto. I love risotto. I also hate to make risotto because I hate all the standing and stirring. I also once had a terrible risotto experience when one of the squirrels I had been feeding (long story) fell down the stove pipe during a windstorm and got trapped in a duct in the kitchen while I was trying to prepare risotto for a dinner party with some Very Special Guests (including an Academy Award Winner). The squirrel was hammering and knocking around inside the stove ducts. I was embarrassed by this and not wanting to upset my guests, I pretended it was me knocking the pot with my long wooden spoon. I was desperate.
  The entire evening ended with having to call the only Urban Trapper (think Bill Murray in Caddyshack) in the LosAngeles phone book. The  finale involved  Alan having to stand in front of the stove holding a large wire cage while the Trapper went up on the roof and forced the squirrel down the stove pipe and into the cage. The Trapper left with him (the squirrel not Alan) promising to release him into a nearby park. Images of Brunswick stew danced in my head.
No animals were harmed in the making of that risotto. It was also the last time I ever attempted the dish. I had major Risotto trauma.
 Until this afternoon. Since I'd successfully mastered polenta with the the no-stir clay pot oven method, I thought why can't I do this with risotto? Who says I have to stand at the stove and stir til my arm falls off? A bit of research and some e-mails from readers assured me that people do it this way in Italy all the time. I was in.
 What better sort of day for risotto than a cloudy semi rainy Saturday in Sonoma with a storm brewing?  Perfect risotto weather. I also was lucky enough to have scored from old family friends an entire bag of dried porcini mushrooms that had been sent to them by their cousins in Italy. It was the chance of a lifetime. I decided to give it a whirl.
 It was also the perfect excuse to use one of my favorite pieces of clay cookware from Clay Coyote.

  Cooking this dish took about an hour and 10 minutes, but that hour and ten minutes involved me doing everything else but standing at the stove and stirring. Set this recipe up and put your feet up, you'll only have to get up and stir once. I promise.
Here's how you work it.
 Soak 1 oz of dried porcini mushrooms in 2 cups of very hot water for 30 minutes.
In a heavy pan or skillet heat:
1 Tbs of olive oil
1/2 stick of butter
 When it's melted add in:
1 onion finely chopped
8 oz of sliced and chopped baby bella or crimini mushrooms

1 oz of soaked  porcini mushrooms drained. (Note: Save the soaking liquid it will be used in the recipe)
When the mushrooms have cooked down and softened add in:
1 and 3/4 cups of Arborio rice
stir it all around so that the rice is well coated with the butter and oil, about 3 minutes or so.

In a separate pan heat:
1 and 3/4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth.
 Add in:
2/3 cup of dry white wine or
 1/3 cup of broth mixed with 1/3 cup of sherry vinegar.
  Pour the liquids into the oven-proof dish.

Add in the rice and mushroom mixture.

Cover the dish with a lid or if there is no lid, seal it tightly with foil.

 Place the dish on the top shelf of a cold oven.
 Turn the oven on to 375 degrees.
After 30 minutes take the top off give it one good stir.

Put the top back on and pop it back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
Take the risotto out, add in:
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Pecorino cheese or to taste
 Stir it up well.

Serve it with a bit of chopped Italian parsley and some finely shaved Parmesan cheese.
This risotto was amazing and amazingly easy to prepare. I'm eager now to try all the different sorts of risottos out there. Armed with my trusty Clay Coyote pot and a box of Arborio rice, it's almost like a vacation.

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