Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Risotto that hits all the right spots

Can you tell what's different?

We're still both tantalising close and yet months away from warm weather here; Spring in the Northeast can be a cruel, hope crusher. Last week, we donned shorts and teeshirts, slapped on some suncream and even trotted out the patio furniture. This week, we've already had snow and more is in the forecast for tomorrow. Humph.

All this leaves me very confused as to what to buy in my weekly supermarket sweep, and then what to cook on any given day. One day I feel like a salad and grilled food, the next, risotto. Today, with snow on the horizon again, it's the latter. I've intended on posting a version of this for a while; Mark Bittman turned the light on for me that, brown rice can also be used for risotto. Until I realised that, eating risotto for me was a guilty pleasure, but not now. I love the texture and nutty flavor the brown rice lends to risotto; it's a different dish for sure, but equally tasty and significantlt more nutritious.

I have to say, I've been a touch intimidated regarding the posting of a risotto. In my family, there are a number of foodies; to name a couple, my brother is "in the business" and knows his way around a kitchen in a more expert way than I for sure (check him out:

My cousin, of guest post fame, is no slouch in the kitchen either; they recently told me of their plan for a "risotto off". The basic premise; both contestants feel very sure that no-one can surpass their "epic" risottos, so they'll cook them on the same night and have some "impartial" tasters rate them. They love a good bit of competition; I do not, so I immediately withdrew my interest and went quiet on my recipe.

A little time has passed and I had some asparagus and baby bella mushrooms waiting patiently to be put to good use and what better than a wholesome brown rice risotto. Ok, I'll enter the family risotto arena I thought. Here goes:

Brown Rice Risotto

Brown Rice Risotto


2 cups/400g short grain rice
approx 1quart/1 litre chicken broth
1 cup/ 250 ml white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 small onion chopped finely
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or minced
roasted veg of your choice (I used asparagus and baby bella mushrooms, chopped into bitesize pieces)
2 oz/ 50g finely grated parmesan
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoon finely chopped herbs of your choice (I used thyme and sage)


  1. Bring a medium pot of water up to the boil, add the rice and boil for 12 minutes.
  2. Drain the rice and set aside (I often do this part earlier in the day and refrigerate the rice until ready to assemble the risotto)
  3. Place the vegetables you are using on a rasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, season and roast at 400°C for approx 15 minutes.
  4. Remove and set aside.
  5. Heat the butter or oil on medium high, in a large heavy bottomed pot, and fry the onions until softened; 2-3 minutes. Then  add the garlic and cook a further 1 minute
  6. Meanwhile heat the broth and wine together in a medium pot
  7. Add the rice to the onions mixture and stir around for a few minutes until coated with the oils and flavors.
  8. Turn the heat down to low and add enough of the warmed liquid to just cover the rice.
  9. Stir until the liquid is all absorbed, then do the same again. Stir stir stir...
  10. This process will take approx 35 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Add more if it needs it.
  11. When the rice is cooked, add the roasted vegetables, cheese and herbs.
  12. Stir to combine and serve immediately.
A couple of notes on the recipe:
  • great vegetable substitutes are roasted butternut squash and sage or pea and mint or basil. Anything goes really.
  • As I was stirring tonight (a rare 30 undisturbed minutes for me, thanks to Tigger and Poo), I actually really enjoyed the simple pleasure of standing at the stove. However, I'm under no illusion that many of us can't commit that time to a risotto on a week night, so I got out my Delia Smith cookbooks. Delia has a couple of fantastic risotto recipes in her "How to Cook" books which are oven baked. If it works with arborio rice I strongly suspect it will work with the precooked brown, so I''ll test that and post an add on to this if it is worth doing.
  • Oh and my 4 year old ate this (after a gentle nudge), the 2 year old ate only 1 bite.  I won't give up trying!
Update: 8/7/2013

Smoked Salmon Lemony Zucchini Risotto (Totally Yummy!)

I tried an awesome new version tonight, loosely based on Mark Bittman's Lemony Zucchini Risotto. 
Here's how it goes:

After 15 mins of stirring, add 2 yellow squash, grated. These will cook down and evaporate just like the broth, then continue adding broth and stirring until the rice is cooked. 
I also added smoked salmon, right at the end with a whole lemon, zested and juiced and about 3/4 cup of pecorino. Really, really good.


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