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.


  1. omg! you now totally have me convinced to make risotto this way, I have never had it TRUE! I have never made it! Not that I didnt want to try it but would never order it just as an entree out, then the time it took didnt seem worth it since I had no idea what it tasted like, and now you have just inspired me to make this, easy as your perfect instructions are, risotto is in my future for sure thanks KAthy!

  2. This was so much fun to read the fabulous risotto became secondary.

  3. Ahaah I love your stories, so entertaining, but oh well you are in that industry. Great job on the risotto, I guess you found a way to go beyond the risotto-squirrel trauma - Looks delicious and if you can save some tendon wrist, even better!

  4. I do enjoy the stirring though. Find it theraputic... im a little odd!

  5. What so no twenty minutes' stirring?

    Genius! I am a convert!

  6. Cute post! Yeah for the no stirring method. I am all for that!

  7. Cook's Illustrated has an article about no-stir risotto this month, but yours is even less labor-intensive than theirs. They didn't think to put it in the oven. They've got it in a dutch oven on the stove and they remove it from the heat for the last 5 minutes. Cheers, Amy

  8. Thanks for being the guinea pig Kathy! Armed with your method, I look forward to (almost) labour free risottos!

  9. Your risotto and write-up have me inspired to try and make it. I've never had risotto, so I'm not quite sure what to expect. Really enjoyed your story about your risotto experience and I'm glad the squirrel was unharmed! =)

  10. I love this idea. When there are other dished to prepared or a nice glass of wine to be drank why stand around the stove stirring risotto. The allusion to Bill Murray is also greatly appreciated. I do have to invest in a piece of clay cookware in the very near future.

  11. So nice to hear that risotto can be made in the oven. I always cheat by putting it in my electric pressure cooker. I have dreaded having that appliance break, but now I know that if I have to place an RIP sign over it, I have a way of making one of my favorite foods without the standing and stirring!

  12. great stirring I'm risotto..


  13. haha, awesome story. this recipe is fabulous! i will have to try this next time i make risotto.

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  15. I do enjoy the stirring though. Find it theraputic... im a little odd!



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