Risotto redux

I love risotto. I first learned of its existence in the little Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village where Jeff and I had lunch after eloping to Manhattan (we were living in New Jersey at the time). I first learned how to make it when I came across a recipe from Donna Hay (the Australian Martha Stewart) right after we moved back to Seattle.

Risotto became one of my go-to dishes. Arborio rice, chicken broth, white wine, onion, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Simple, inexpensive, delicious and comforting. And remarkably effective at helping me complete my climb to my all-time-high bodyweight. To be fair, that had more to do with portion sizes and frequency than it did with the dish itself. All things in moderation, young Jedi.

I don’t make a habit of eating white rice anymore, although I will bust out the Arborio once in a while. Thus, I was mighty pleased to stumble across a recipe for brown rice risotto. I had previously attempted to substitute short grain brown rice into my original risotto recipe, but it didn’t quite work. That’s partly because brown rice takes longer to cook, so all that stirring you do with regular risotto? Triple it. I needed a nap by the time I was done.

The recipe I found and adapted was easy peasy. It called for long grain brown rice, which seems strange, since short- or medium-grain rices like Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano are traditional and preferred. I stayed a bit truer to the original by sticking to my short-grain brown rice. At this point I feel that I must include the disclaimer that the method used in this recipe in no way resembles the true risotto method. But the results were pretty satisfying for not being “real risotto.”

Brown Rice Risotto
Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
1 cup short grain brown rice
2.5 cups chicken broth (or 2 cups broth and a half-cup white wine)
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (or 1/2 cup parm and 1/2 cup ricotta cheese)

Olive oil
Butter
1 cup sliced or diced onion or shallots (as preferred)
Other vegetables as preferred (discussed below)

  1. Bring broth (and wine if using) to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan or pot. Add the tablespoon of butter and allow to melt. Add rice, stir, lower heat and simmer for 45-50 minutes. Rice will tender when it’s done, and will probably have some excess moisture.
  2. While rice is cooking, heat butter and olive oil (use as little or as much as you prefer, but do use some) over medium heat in a 8-inch saucepan or skillet. A onion or shallots, reduce heat to medium low, and cook, stirring often, until they are golden.
  3. When rice is done, add veggies of choice and stir to combine. Remove from heat, stir in cheese and add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Variations: There are as many variations of risotto as there are cooks. Last night, I quartered and thinly sliced a fennel bulb and sauteed that along with the shallots. You could thinly slice or dice just about any vegetable you like and add it. Mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, asparagus, shelled peas (don’t slice those!)…feel free to experiment.

The original recipe said it served two, but we had leftovers. I would say it serves two hearty eaters or three light-to-moderate eaters as an entrée (we had green salad and some roasted vegetables with ours). As a side dish with protein, it would probably serve four.