Thursday, January 31, 2008

*domo arigato, mr. risotto.

My one experience making risotto prior to tonight involved my spending 14% of the time paying attention while trying to make arancini, which I had no patience for. They came out tasting sort of like what you'd get if you flash-fried a hush puppy and it was completely uncooked inside. Yum?

Tonight, the woodside hit the road. JLB was kind enough to host the cookstravaganza, to bank roll it, and to make ZERO snide comments about the number of dishes I dirtied. It's good to have friends. The main event? Smoked Gouda Risotto with Spinach and Mushrooms. The setup wasn't labor-intensive, but it was a lot of stuff. I had to photograph it in two shifts! First string:

Black pepper, arborio, creminis, chicken stock, button mushrooms, smoked gouda, and parmesan. That contraption in the front makes an appearance to honor Ermie. A terrific lady, and the passer-on to JLB of what I like to fondly call her "can't opener."

Second string:

That's butter, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and the delinquents in the back row: spinach and shiitake mushrooms (FYI, de-stemming those babies is a bitch. Hi grandma!)

Risotto is something that's never terribly intimidated me. There are a lot of techniques that boggle the mind ... anything involving a piping bag comes to mind. But pour and stir? That I can do. Into the pan went butter to melt, then arborio to toast, along with a little white wine. Then the add-broth-and-agitate progression began. It only takes about 20 minutes, which is taxing for an attention span like mine. But the transformation is sort of ... transfixing. Only a few broth additions in, the whole thing looked like it was riddled with cheese, despite the lack of any dairy whatsoever. The rice is promiscuous with its starchiness, giving it up almost immediately.

It thickens quickly, but that carby goodness is calorically counteracted by stirring. Twenty minutes of stirring. That's exercise, ladies! When the liquid is absorbed and the rice is silky and pourable, in goes gouda and spinach. Instant velvety wilting melting. Big Brother, pay attention. There's some vegetarian Valentine's potential here.

In another pan, three kinds of mushrooms join the herbs, garlic, sweet onion (in lieu of shallots), and white wine. That, my friends, is some deliciously fragrant stuff. And it cooks for a grand total of seven minutes.

A pillowy bed of cheesy risotto, studded with greens and topped with meaty mushrooms and a smattering of parmesan. Clean Eating, THIS is how it's done.

Damn, my stirring shoulder is going to be sore tomorrow.


at: 4:51 PM said...

Any chance there were leftovers???? I dangerously read this post while starving....

at: 8:29 AM said...

You make a good case for vegetarianism. Not for me, mind you, but I'll (try to) stop giving you a hard time. ;)

P.S. About THAT.

K. says:
at: 10:22 AM said...

anonymous: LOTS, actually. it feeds a crowd! drop by JLB's house anytime. she loves visitors, and i have it on good authority her front door is usually unlocked.

j-bo: well thank you! i think.

at: 8:26 AM said...

I can confirm that this was an AMAZING dish! Beck hit the left overs again last night. I does make a lot.

K. says:
at: 7:59 PM said...

it's supposed to serve 6, but i think even with us all going back for seconds there was a lot left!



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.