Have you ever done something really awesome and then tried to explain it to someone only to have them look at you quizzically and say, “cool story, bro”? I have. This happens to me quite often. I find myself frequently ending stories awkwardly with, “guess you just had to be there.” I really don’t want my description of this risotto to end up like that, so I’ll try to steer clear of superlatives and the hyperbolic adjectives I’m want to use.
Let’s start with a picture:
And now I will describe the picture.For this risotto, I was determined to use as many things that I had lying around in my kitchen for my Plan that I told you about yesterday. First, I did a little research and found this article from the New York Times that outlines a very basic risotto. I started with 3 cups of boiling water, to which I added a tablespoon of organic vegetable Better Than Bouillon. Next time I think I’ll use the No Chicken flavor, both because I prefer the flavor and I think it is more flavorful, but in the spirit of using things up I went with the vegetable. Once that was boiling and mixed up I reduced the heat and let it simmer away till it had all been incorporated into the risotto. My best guess is that you do this so that the temperature of the risotto doesn’t fluctuate dramatically while you’re cooking it (i.e. so it doesn’t take even longer to cook).
The recipe I read said to use butter, or butter and olive oil. Since I don’t really cook with butter, I thought about using Earth Balance but instead just went with olive oil. It worked great. My ancho chiles are dried, and a little on the elderly side, so they were really hard to slice. For future reference I’d recommend soaking the chile in warm water for 5 or 10 minutes and then pulling out the stem and seeds before chopping finely. The seeds were really hard to eat. Other than those things, the chile rehydrated beautifully, added a great smoky red color, and tasted fantastic.
You can use any kind of dry white wine (as the chefs on TV always say, don’t cook with wine you wouldn’t drink!) so I used some of the dry vermouth I keep around for martinis. I think the brand is Dolin. It’s really good. And I adore the label. The recipe said it would take a minute for the rice to absorb all the wine but for me it took more like 5. Maybe I didn’t let it cook in the onions and olive oil for long enough. (Did I mention how important it is to use arborio rice? Regular rice just doesn’t have the same texture or starch content. Apparently there is a kind of rice called “vialone” that works too.)
Anyway, the rest of the cooking went normally enough: stir stir stir, add broth, stir stir stir, add broth, stir stir stir… etc. Some people approach cooking risotto as a necessary evil, an annoying means to a wonderful end, but I find it rather soothing. Almost hypnotizing. It’s so simple and feels so important at the same time. A good thing to do on a Sunday evening. As I was ruminating and stirring I had the thought that adding cold corn and frozen edamame might not be great so I threw them in with the last bit of broth as soon as I added the second to last bit of broth to the risotto. Then, when it was time, I added the broth, corn and edamame all in together. This worked nicely as everything finished cooking at the same time. The corn stayed crisp and juicy, the edamame had a slight chew, and the rice was as voluptuous as you’d ever want it. If you don’t have pine nuts, you could use some toasted walnuts or maybe even almonds, but I think that, especially if this is your main course, you’ll be glad you had some crunch. Nobody likes a mono-textural meal.
I used fresh corn because that’s what I had, but I’m sure you could use frozen and it would be fine. I’d go with a sweet corn, though, like the kind Trader Joe’s has.
Time commitment: about an hour
Makes: about 2 entree size portions, 4 if you’re serving as a side dish
- 3 c. broth
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 ancho chile, dry, softened, stem and seeds removed, and chopped up
- 1/2 onion, chopped finely (about 1/3 c.)
- 1 c. arborio or vialone rice
- 1 c. white wine or dry vermouth
- 3 ears fresh sweet corn, kernels removed
- 1/2 c. shelled edamame
- 1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a sauce pan, bring broth to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and put a ladle in it.
- Heat up a skillet over medium-low-ish heat (I used a 10″ one) and add the olive oil. Add chiles and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, till the onion is translucent. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute, making sure that each grain is coated in oil.
- Add the wine and cook stirring constantly till most of the liquid is absorbed. Add a ladle of broth and cook stirring constantly till most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue this process till only one ladle’s worth of broth remains in the pot. Add corn and edamame to the remaining broth as soon as you add the second to last ladle of broth to the risotto. When most of the liquid in the risotto is absorbed, add the remaining broth with the corn and edamame. Cook stirring constantly till most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Taste, add salt and pepper to your liking. Stir. Top with pine nuts, and serve.