Risotto is a new thing to me. Don't get me wrong - I've had plenty of them in restaurants. However, I don't eat it often because it sends me into a carbohydrate k-hole. This having been said, I certainly don't make it often at home. I blogged about my first risotto at home back in May - not long ago. I had some trepidation about it then...and this time, I'll admit it still made me nervous. I was having flashbacks of Gordon Ramsey on Hell's Kitchen holding the plate of sticky risotto upside down and saying it looked like "a dog's dinner".
I had to put my fears aside when I found out that risotto was the theme chosen for Hay Hay It's Donna Day, hosted this time by Cenzina at il cavoletto di bruxelle. It's a great theme because its such a versatile dish. You can put almost anything in it and its bound to be good.
I did learn a few helpful hints during my last experience with making risotto:
- Three words (or one word broken up into three parts?): mise en place. Seriously. Have all of your ducks in a row before you get started. That way, you're not scrambling about for ingredients and not stirring.
- One more word: Stir.
- An extra set of hands is helpful but not necessary. This time, I made the dish during a photo shoot with Tony Clark. Not only was he good for ladling my stock into the pan while I stirred...but he was a great taste tester, took a great photo of it, and was there for moral support.
In the end, my risotto turned out like a dream. My recipe includes radicchio, which I adore the taste of. Mixed with a creamy smoked mozzarella, the risotto was a wonderful contrast in flavors and textures. The cheese was divine in the creamy risotto. The radicchio kept some of its integrity even after being wilted in the rice, giving a nice bitter crunch along with the al dente rice.
Risotto with Smoke Mozzarella and Raddichio (recipe found here on foodandwine.com) - serves 6
- 5 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock, more if needed
- 1 cup water, more if needed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 head radicchio (about 1/2 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 pound smoked mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- In a medium saucepan, bring the broth and water to a simmer. In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the rice to the pot and stir until it begins to turn opaque, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until all the wine has been absorbed.
- Add about 1/2 cup of the simmering broth to the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the broth has been completely absorbed. The rice and broth should bubble gently; adjust the heat as needed. Continue cooking the rice, adding broth 1/2 cup at a time and allowing the rice to absorb the broth before adding the next 1/2 cup. Cook the rice in this way until almost tender, about 20 minutes. Add the radicchio and parsley and cook until the radicchio and the rice are tender, about 5 minutes more. The broth that hasn't been absorbed should be thickened by the starch from the rice. You may not need to use all of the liquid, or you may need more broth or some water.
- Stir the pepper and the butter into the risotto. Add the mozzarella and stir until it melts into a web.