Friday, January 21, 2011

Guest Blogger Tracie: Baked Risotto

My friend Tracie decided she wanted to do another guest post, so she emailed it to me.  Last August.  I promptly lost it in my email, but it has since been exhumed (after she nagged me for several weeks) and so here it is, her oven baked risotto, sorry for the delay.

Intrepid readers, I’ve made my triumphant return. I’ve missed ya’ll and I’m sure you feel likewise. In my first post I spoke (typed?) about my love for Pioneer Woman. But alas, my heart is fickle and I also love another. America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Country on PBS. It’s super nerdy and has none of the sex appeal of the shows on the Food Network. However, Test Kitchen seriously appeals to me because of their obsessive search to make things better, easier, and perfect. (I like perfection. I rarely attain it. My life is fraught with tension because of this.) Because I enjoy Test Kitchen’s diligence, I get their Cook’s Country magazine where I got both of these recipes. Oh and PS, the next time you see Emma, ask her about how much she loves searching for the hidden roosters in the magazine. [You should try it, it is strangely satisfying]  So, to get on with it, my family had plans to go out to eat for Father’s Day (I do realize this was months ago, yes) but one of us had to work and so instead I whipped this up. And burnt my finger, which I will tell you about in a bit.  This was my first experience with making risotto. Apparently it’s a bit difficult and inconvenient. Thankfully, the awesomeness that is Test Kitchen has come to our rescue to make this easier for us.

Le ingredients: unsalted butter, garlic, onion, parsley, Arborio rice, Parmesan cheese, water, bay leaves, low sodium chicken broth, dry white wine, and salt and pepper which I have forgotten to include.

Step one (not pictured): Preheat, which is really just regular heating and I fail to see why it is referred to as “pre,” the oven to 400 degrees. Step two: on the stove-top, simmer the broth, water, and bay leaves over medium-high heat. Cover it and keep it warm over the lowest heat possible.  While your broth is simmering away, melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and cook until the onion browns.  Add the rice and cook it until the edges turn clear. Which sounded perplexing, but that is totally what happens. The edges turn clear and the center stays white. It’s pretty cool. Then, add in the garlic and stir it around a bit. [Tracie is all about the pictures, but I tend to favor a less is more approach, so I may have edited a few out, just imagine the broth heating and the onions browning....]

Next add in the wine and stir until it is completely absorbed.  Then, pour the broth over the rice.

Cover the Dutch oven with aluminum foil, pressing it down so it sits on top of the broth. Which, personally, I think is difficult to do because the foil picks up the heat from the risotto pretty fast. Crimp the edges of the foil around the pan too, which I also find slightly difficult due to the heat of the Dutch oven. Cover the foil with a tight fitting lid and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes.  After baking it, pull the risotto out, EXCEPT, be sure to remember that the metal lid of the pot has *just* come out of a 400 degree oven and is pretty damn hot itself. So *don’t* go picking it up all willy-nilly and then drop it, well like it’s hot, on the kitchen floor, narrowly avoiding your bare feet and burning the crap out of your fingers, most inconveniently as they are the fingers of your dominant hand. (Lefties for life!) [dork, not about the burning, but the lefties thing]

Get rid of the bay leaves, and stir in the parmesan and parsley. Season it with salt and pepper to taste.

Easy Baked Risotto (serves 6 to 8)
5 cups  low sodium chicken broth
½ cup water
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
2 cups Arbario rice (it’s important you use this particular rice, it’s risotto rice)
½ cup dry white wine (and remember, only cook with stuff you’d be willing to drink)
1 ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1. Put the oven rack on the middle shelf and heat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Bring the broth, water, and bay leaves to a simmer in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. After bringing it to a simmer, cover the pot and keep the broth warm over the lowest possible heat.
3. While the broth is heating, melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon of salt and cook until the onions brown, around 6 minutes. Add the rice, stirring, and cook it until the edges of the rice become translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook if for about 30 seconds, until you can smell it. Then add the wine and stir until all the liquid is absorbed.
4. Pour the broth over the rice. Cover the Dutch oven with a sheet of aluminum foil and press down so it sits on top of the broth. Crimp down the edges to form a seal and cover with a tight fitting lid.
5. Bake until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Pick out the bay leaves. Stir in parmesan cheese and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stay tuned for Tracie's next guest post for Italian skillet chicken (which I promise will be up before next year)

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