Facts of Life: basic risotto recipe

Here’s how I make risotto — the perfect thing to whip up when you have meat or vegetable leftovers. Or no leftovers at all.

One of the most pleasing aspects of risotto is you have (or should have) all the ingredients hanging around your kitchen. No need for a special shopping trip.

Requirements

Two saucepans — one bigger than the other

Knorr chicken or vegetable cubes (don’t yell at me — I know I’m supposed to be making my own fresh chicken broth but you’ve got to be kidding! No way am I boiling chicken parts or a whole chicken for risotto, and Knorr is just fine, thank you very much.)

Arborio rice – a few cups

Olive oil or butter –  a couple of tablespoons

One smallish onion, chopped

A glass or so of white wine

Good grated cheese — which I do grate myself. A lot quicker and easier than boiling a whole chicken. Tip: Zyliss sells an excellent grater that won’t grate your fingers along with the cheese. Blood is not an ingredient in risotto.

Pepper

Leftovers (optional): Got some leftover chicken or other meat that is presenting itself as uninviting in your fridge? Good: cut it into bits. Or fish. Or if the kale you made is really too bitter for salad (you know it is!), cut that up. Or both. Or anything! Or not: if you don’t have leftovers, never mind.

How To

  1. Boil about 6 cups of water in one of the saucepans. When it’s boiled, turn off the heat and put broth cubes in (each Knorr cube equals 2 cups, so you’ll need 3 cubes). Stir and mash the cubes into oblivion. Then turn the heat back on and bring the broth to a very low simmer.
  2. Put some olive oil or butter (or margarine, for that matter) in the other saucepan and turn on the heat to medium. When the oil looks, I dunno, heated (whatever you think that looks like), dump in the chopped onion. Let it cook for a short while (but not brown).
  3. Put the rice into the pot and stir around. Then dump the wine into the pan. Let it cook down until it’s completely absorbed.
  4. Now — either with a ladle or directly out of the saucepan containing the simmering broth — pour enough of the broth into the rice to make it look liquid. Let it cook until the liquid has soaked completely into the rice. Then put more broth in and do the same thing several times, letting it be absorbed, putting more in, etc.
  5. Here’s where the magic part comes: risotto is a really companionable dish. It lets you know when it’s done. How do you know? It tells you when it’s had enough broth by not absorbing fully the last dose of broth you’ve put into it. (If you’re unsure about whether the rice has had it with the broth you can taste it to see if it’s al dente, or softer.)

Now that the risotto is done, you can stir in whatever leftovers you may have and the cheese.

Doesn’t need salt but will love pepper.

That’s it. The whole thing takes maybe 20 minutes.

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