Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Step by Step, oooh baby, really want you in my world

I have another cooking confession to make. I've always been intimidated by risotto.

It's true. I've loved it every time I've tried it, but I've never made it myself. A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me for a recipe for risotto, which I couldn't help her with. Ever since, I've felt ashamed about my fears. I knew it was time to over come them, but what if it turned out disastrous? What if I ruined a perfectly good dinner? People are sent home on Top Chef for less than perfect risotto, and they are professionals.

But, this Sunday, I decided to face my fears. I pulled out all of my cookbooks and decided on Mark Bittman's Simple Risotto from How to Cook Everything. There were only five steps; I could do this, right? I consulted the internet to see what to serve with it. Every site I read warned to pick something easy, grilled meat of some sort, something that didn't require too much attention or could be cooked with my left hand. I decided on filet mignon. Sadly, now, there are only two steaks left in our bounty of Omaha Steaks Wedding Meat.

Now it was time to get started...

Simple Risotto with Zucchini and Summer Squash (inspired by Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)
Serves 4 to 6
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • Large pinch of parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 to 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

First, I gathering all of my ingredients in one place. In addition to the ingredients listed above, I chopped a small zucchini and a small summer squash, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 shallot, and pulled together two 5-oz fillets, 1 bottle of stout and 2 tablespoons of butter.

Now to start my risotto; First heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick pot. I went with my Le Creuset, really any excuse to use it! Allow the remaining butter to soften while you cook. When the butter is melted, add the shallot and parsley and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot softens, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy and coated with butter, 2-3 minutes.

Add a little salt and pepper, then the white wine. Stir and let the liquid bubble away. Use a ladle to begin adding the stock, 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring after each addition.

When the stock is just about evaporated, add more. The mixture should be neither soupy, nor dry. Keep the heat at medium to medium high and stir frequently.

At this step, I heated 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 10-inch skillet. When the oil was glistening, I added my zucchini and summer squash. Stirring every couple of minutes to cook evenly.

I also added 2 tablespoons of butter to a 10-inch saute pan. Once the butter was melted, I added my fillets and seared on both sides. I removed the fillets from the pan, added the chopped shallots and garlic and sauted till tender. I added the stout and brought it to a simmer. When heated through, I returned the fillets to the pan and allowed them to cook to 135 degrees (Medium-Rare for Alex) and 155 degrees (Medium-Well for me).

Back to the risotto. Begin tasting the rice 20 minutes after you add it; you want it to be tender but still with a tiny bit of crunch; it could take as long as 30 minutes to reach this stage. When it does, stir in the softened butter and about 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, if you are using. At this stage, I added my zucchini and summer squash and stirred to combine.

Taste, adjusting the seasoning, and serve immediately.

The meal was a success! No one was more surprised than me that we didn't end up ordering take out. The risotto turned out buttery, delicious, and full of flavor. Though there was a lot of stirring, the recipe was not particularly difficult.

This recipe is definitely something I'll be adding to my repertoire for quiet evenings at home. Though I'll probably never make this for a dinner party given the precise timing necessary for getting it right.

I'm so relieved that I can now say I've made risotto and have a great recipe to share with others. I'm looking at you, Pallavi.

What dish are you most intimidated by? What is your greatest kitchen fear?


  1. Look at you go! The risotto sounds great with the squash and zucchini in there.

    I was intimidated by macarons but I'm getting better at making them.

  2. Yay! Risotto is unnecessarily intimidating. Just add broth and stir! Looks like it came out marvelously. I'm intimidating by most baking which you are a pro at!

  3. I am totally intimidated by risotto too. You have inspired me to give it a shot though.

  4. I have a confession to make: I really like NKOTB and watched them in concert two years ago...

    Risotto looks awesome! I definitely need to try making my own too.

  5. thanks so much for all the encouragement ladies. I don't know why I was so intimidated. It turned out to be not too difficult!

  6. Risotto used to intimidate me as well. I found butter is key... as is finding a method you're comfortable with. Once you figure that out, the possibilities are endless!

  7. I was nervous the first time I made risotto as well. They always make such a big production about it on cooking shows! I make it a lot now, though--usually as a main dish with different veggies and sometimes shrimp.

  8. Well look at you... I was intimidated by bread and you helped me get over it. I'm super intimidated by risotto, but now I think I'm going to try it!

  9. great dish! and I love your Le Creuset: I have the same one in turquoise :)