Summer Risotto

Arborio rice is the trickster of the grain family.  Most people don’t even know that is the name of the rice that goes into making the delicious dish called Risotto.   Not too long ago you could hardly find arborio in the rice section of the grocery store.  Arborio rice reminds me of the cows in the chick-fil-a commercials, telling us to eat the long grain stuff instead, because arborio is much too complicated to mess with at home.  Don’t buy me, buy some nice brown rice, if you want to get daring check out that basmati over there.  Maybe its just me that makes up voices for the bags of rice while standing in the aisle?  Anyway, the point of all of this is that most people don’t make risotto at home.  Its far to complicated, or time consuming, or confusing to even attempt.  Best leave this dish to the professionals! BAH!!  Yes, it takes a little more effort than boiling water and adding rice, but you can make a meal out of risotto. Throw some grilled shrimp or chicken breasts on this risotto and you have a winner for supper.  This dish is date night worthy, no need to go into a busy restaurant and mess with those crowds, in the time it takes to get there and parked and wait for a table you can have a fabulous meal at home.

So, this being a summer risotto its all about the veggies, I grabbed what looked good at the market and suggest you do the same.  First thing I like to do is blanch and shock my veggies.  Fancy words for toss them in boiling water then in ice water.  I cut up my veggies into bite size pieces and then add them to the boiling salted water for two minutes.DSC_0043

Then I scoop them out and get them right into ice water.DSC_0045

I did this with Summer Squash, Asparagus, and Snow Peas.  I am going to use some baby spinach too, but no need to blanch that.   I took care of doing this part during the babies nap time today, but you could even do it a day or two in advance.  Just drain the veggies and store them in the fridge.  I like to do it this way because, believe it or not, I think it keeps the veggies crunchier than cooking them in the risotto.  I hate soggy veggies.

Now for the rice.  This will take a half hour of time committed to stirring.  That is the hardest part of risotto, the stirring.   I start by pouring chicken stock into a pot and heating that. In a large stock pot I add butter and a chopped onion and saute that for a few minutes over a medium high heat.

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To that I add my rice and stir it to get some of the melted butter onto each grain so it is all shiny

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Then I add some white wine and stir for a bit till that evaporates.  Then I start the stirring, adding, stirring, adding process.   I just add a ladleful of my warmed chicken stock (totally could use vegetable stock) and stir DSC_0059

If your liquid starts to bubble rapidly right away then lower your heat a bit.  Stir your rice after a couple of minutes you should see that your rice has absorbed most of the liquid.  If you notice your liquid isn’t getting absorbed then increase your heat a bit.  When you are able to part the white rice it’s time to add another ladle of chicken stock.

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And that is it, just keep stirring and adding.  I usually taste the rice after twenty minutes to see how far along its come, and add any salt or pepper.  At about twenty five minutes I am happy with the feel of the rice and I add my veggies in along with the juice of a lemon and a little bit of fresh thyme.  You might not use all of your chicken stock, and that is ok.DSC_0064

Then I add a little bit of cream, and my spinach and cook for another minute.  I shut off the heat and add Parmesan and we have Risotto!

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Summer Risotto (Serves Six)

Ingredients

  • 1 Summer Squash – Diced
  • ½ Lb Asparagus – Cut into 1-2 Inch Pieces
  • 1 Cup Snow Peas
  • 2 Cups Baby Spinach
  • 1 Onion – Diced
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 tsp Fresh Thyme
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Cups Arborio Rice
  • ½ Cup White Wine
  • 8 Cups Chicken Stock
  • ½ Cup Heavy Cream
  • ¾ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Blanch and shock Summer Squash, Asparagus, and Snow Peas.  Pour Chicken Stock into medium size pot and set to medium low heat.  Melt butter in a large pot, add onion and saute over medium high heat for two minutes, adding a pinch of salt.  Add Rice and coat rice with butter stirring for one minute.  Add Wine and stir cooking till mostly absorbed. Add a ladle of chicken stock to rice and stir until absorbed.  Repeat process until rice is tender about twenty five minutes.  Stir in blanched vegetables and thyme.  Squeeze in the fresh lemon juice, but careful not to add any seeds.  Add in spinach and cream stirring for one minute.  Turn off heat and stir in Parmesan.

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