Monday, October 29, 2007

Rice Rice Baby

It seems like this week nothing that I plan on cooking ever happens. Evidently, squid is in short supply in Murray Hill, the raging fires in California make it difficult to buy iceberg lettuce, and my local supermarket no longer carries Yukon gold potatoes. So, what's a cook to do? Adapt, I guess. Luckily, I had a few back-ups when I took to food shopping yesterday afternoon. I'd narrowed down today's dish to three options, and settled on a French style chicken liver dish (vetoed by nearly everyone I mentioned it to) that I make about twice a month. But, once again the fates conspired against me and my supermarket did not have all of the ingredients necessary to make the refreshing salad that tops the dish. This time I was less annoyed. By the time I got home I wasn't really in the mood for liver anyway, so I took advantage of my stocked fridge and made another back-up meal-- risotto.

Risotto seems to have a bad rap, mostly because it has a rep for being complicated and time consuming. Not so! Even the simplest risotto, say, a saffron scented one with no extra add ins takes only 22 minutes, and it's just a matter of stirring. Pop in your favorite Cd, grab a wooden spoon, and before your Cd's done playing, you've got risotto. The one thing to keep in mind is that you use the correct type of rice. Arborio is a short grain rice. The shorter the grain, the starchier it is. And it's that starch in the rice that creates risotto's creamy texture. If you have to add cream or milk,'re doing it wrong. So long as you routinely stir the risotto as it cooks, each grain of rice will be encouraged to release it's starch, leaving you with a super creamy final product. I went with a mushroom, green pea and prosciutto risotto and it turned out great! That's not being pompous, trust me, I've seriously massacred many a risotto recipe in the not so distant past. But if I can master it, I'm sure you can, so give it a go. It's a great thing to have in your cooking repertoire for using up leftover ingredients. Here's how this one went:

Mushroom Risotto with Green Peas and Prosciutto

Olive oil
3 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, warmed (I just heat it in the microwave)
1/4 cup frozen peas
2 sheets prosciutto, sliced
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Sauté mushrooms in olive oil along with garlic, thyme and red pepper flake. Salt and pepper to taste. When mushrooms are a quarter of the way cooked through, add the rice and more salt, and sauté until opaque, about 2 minutes.

2. Add a half a cup of stock (I used chicken) and stir until absorbed. Repeat until risotto is cooked through (about 22 minutes). Right before it's done stir in the green peas, Parmesan, and prosciutto. Enjoy!



lauren said...

this sounds great, laura! i imagine that even a veggie version sans the prosciutto would turn out well - good dish to add to the winter rotation!

related Q: for some reason i always have a bunch of leftover fresh thyme in my fridge. when i'm using a fresh herb rather than a dried one, how do the proportions change - or do they?

Laura said...

I've made this before with just the mushrooms and peas, no prosciutto or cheese, so all veggie is definitely also delicious.

Good herb question! Dried herbs are stronger than fresh, so you can always use 1/3 the amount of dried than you would fresh. Or you could do 3 times the amount of fresh herbs than you would dried. Fresh thyme would be great for this recipe, especially with a really strong earthy mushroom.