So, maybe I should have started cooking dinner a tad earlier.
When most people were winding down from their day, watching a little television or perhaps in bed with a good book, I was still stirring risotto.
It’s true what they say: it takes a long time to make.
Last night, I tackled my August Foodie Challenge, Italian version. Every month, Tracy at momoftwosalums and I pick a theme and then try recipes we’ve never made. I knew I wanted to make risotto from the beginning. It’s one of my very favorite things to eat. If I see it on a menu, I’m likely to order it. Risotto is the king of comfort food. It’s THAT time of year, when the warmer blankets come out of the closet and the days become shorter, so I was hoping to master a good risotto recipe for the upcoming snowy season. I’d always been too intimidated by the stories I’d heard of the involved cooking process to attempt it.
I chose this recipe for Spring Green Risotto from Barefoot Contessa. Her recipes always turn out to be delish, and she doesn’t skimp on the quality of her ingredients. I also felt like she’d stay true to the traditional risotto-making process. The list of ingredients included a couple of things I’d never cooked with before, like fennel and leeks. Bonus points for being adventurous! I decided to add zucchini and mushroom to increase the veggies, too.
It had been a leisurely Saturday. After back-to-back trips, we were enjoying being HOME. John and I went about our errands, had a late lunch at the golf club bar in our ‘hood, took an afternoon nap. By the time I got back from the swimming hole for Cholula and stocking up at the grocery store, the sun was setting. Oh, well, I thought. We’ll have dinner in an hour or so.
I grossly underestimated the timeframe there.
First, the prep time to chop all of the yummy components took awhile. But, I had a glass of wine in hand and Julie & Julia was on TV, so I was in my happy place. This is what I love about cooking! The veggies were beautiful and vibrant: peas, asparagus, fennel, leek, mushroom, zucchini.
It was time to set up camp at the stove and make some risotto magic!
After sautéing the fennel and leek in olive oil and butter, I added the Arborio rice. Some white wine started the party first, the rice sipping it right up. Then came a ladle or two of chicken stock. Before adding more liquid, I stirred away, letting the rice slowly absorb the goodness. I sautéed the mushrooms and zucchini in between stirring.
This is where I remained until 10pm, letting the risotto soak up the stock and stirring. Stirring. Stirring.
I followed the recipe, so I’m not sure why it took so much longer than indicated. It sure wasn’t 47 minutes. I don’t mind a lengthy process in the kitchen, but my poor hubby-to-be needed dinner! I added the veggies about halfway through. Slowly, the risotto started to come together, and finally, the 15th taste-test bite (2 hours later) confirmed it was perfectly al dente.
I stirred in some mascarpone cheese, fresh parmesan, lemon zest and juice, and chopped chives. Before serving, I gave it a healthy seasoning of salt and pepper. These last additions made all the difference, in texture and taste. It was creamy, though the veggies still had a bit of crunch in them. The lemon brightened up the flavor, and herbs always freshen up a dish. I closed my eyes with my first bite: Mmmmm. This was good risotto.
I did it.
We happily sat down to our (very) delayed supper. Maybe it tasted incredible because we had been waiting so long to enjoy it, but I doubt it. It was just yummy! Afterward, John sweetly took over clean-up duty, and I went to bed. Because IT WAS BEDTIME. I slept well with a full belly. I’ll make this delish risotto dish again this winter, no doubt.
But I’ll be sure to clear my schedule first.
Be sure to check out my friend‘s attempt at making gnocchi!