The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.
I’ve always been intimidated by risotto. This is because the idea of constantly “fussing over” my food while it’s cooking does not really appeal to me. This challenge proved that the whole idea of the fussing involved with risotto is a bit overblown, however. Yes, you do need to hang around the stove to add the stock and stir periodically. But the whole process doesn’t take longer than 30 minutes. No big deal.
Since Spring is just around the corner here in New York and I’m getting excited about the upcoming gardening season, I’ve been trying to eat up all the veggies I froze from my garden last year. So I defrosted my last container of these slow roasted organic tomatoes for my risotto, and it was wonderful.
Part of the challenge was to make our own chicken stock. I make stock all the time, so I was all set in that department. If you’ve got stock, Arborio rice, a little wine and just a few other ingredients, a delicious risotto can be yours, too.
Note that if you don’t have any homemade roasted tomatoes on hand (and let’s face it, there is a very good chance you don’t), just make the plain risotto base and then you can flavor it as you like. Mushrooms are classic, so are artichokes and peas, but other vegetables can certainly be used, too. I think it would be great with some cooked greens and/or roasted red peppers. Or you can keep it simple but decadent and just use your favorite fresh herbs, a little less stock, a little more cheese and finish it with a little organic cream…it’s very versatile!
Many recipes tell you to add the stock in 1/2 cup increments and to keep the stock hot during the entire process. I did neither of these, but my risotto worked out just fine.
One thing I realized while doing this challenge is that I do not own one single Italian cookbook (it would have been nice to have one for risotto reference). Not one! I already asked for recommendations on Facebook, but I’d love to hear about your favorites, too. I’d like to get at least 1-2 Italian cookbooks in the very near future. So whose do you like? Lidia’s? Marcella’s? Giada’s? Rose Gray’s? Another one? I’d love to hear what book(s) you think I should add to my collection!
Roasted Tomato Risotto
adapted from Think Like a Chef by Tom Collichio
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
*1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
*pinch of sea salt and fresh pepper
*1/2 cup white wine
*8 cups chicken stock
*1 cup roasted tomato halves (plus any herbs, garlic, etc. they were roasted with)
*1 tablespoon butter
*1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add the rice, salt and pepper, and stir around in the pan for about a minute, until the grains are coated in oil and slightly translucent.
2. Add the wine and about 2 cups of stock so that the rice is just about covered. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the wine and stock are absorbed, stirring occasionally; this will take 5-10 minutes.
3. Add another cup of the stock along with the tomatoes and garlic. Cook until the stock is absorbed, and then add another cup. Keep adding stock approximately 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring for another 25-30 minutes. Taste after 25 minutes or so to see if the rice is tender and creamy. When it is, stir in the butter and cheese. Adjust the seasonings, if necessary, and serve with additional grated cheese.