Lekker: Inverness Risotto

I wrote this post instead of doing homework. College is going great, thank you for asking.

Today's post is about one of my favourite dishes that I was introduced to by my old roommate, TB. (Remember him?) This is his classic, so I've named it after the street we used to live on: Inverness Risotto.

Risotto is awesome. I rarely get to eat it because it's basically just carby indulgence, but it's SO GOOD and there are so many ways to change it up. This recipe is my favorite and the way I remember TB making it most often: just mushrooms, peas, and onions. It's a classic flavour combination and I'm sure you'll love it. If you don't...well, sucks to be you I guess.

Hungry yet?

Risotto is awesome, but it's also time consuming. It needs constant attention, much like a baby or a needy girlfriend, but you can't eat a baby.

You've probably heard before that if you want nice fluffy rice with properly separated grains, you never stir or otherwise disturb the rice when cooking. The exact opposite is true of risotto. That's because stirring rice during cooking releases the starch in the grains, and starch is a thickener--a necessary component for risotto but one that results in goopy rice for other dishes.

The point is, don't assume you can multitask very well whilst making this dish. Fortunately the end result is totally worth it, and to me the constant stirring and monitoring is oddly soothing.

Stretching the definition of science here, but that's as science-y as I feel like getting. 

Don't trouble yourselves about the shrimp-looking things in there. That's langosteen, and it's like the middle child between shrimp and lobster (aka it's amazeballs) but it's completely wasted hidden in here. #imessedup

Inverness Risotto
serves 4

What You Need
3 T unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine (You know me, it's always Sauvingnon Blanc over here.)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
~6 oz baby bella mushrooms, finely diced (I know, that's a dumb measurement and I'm sorry; basically it wound up being 6 mushrooms but it really depends what size they are. Just use your judgement and remember that mushrooms shrink considerably when cooked; risotto is all about proportion between rice and other ingredients.)
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen & thawed
1/2 a yellow onion, finely diced (You could use a shallot instead if you want.)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste (Though you probably won't need any salt since most broth is salty enough.)

What You Do
1. So you've lovingly diced up your onion and mushrooms so that they're approximately the size of a pea, yes? (Well, the mushrooms can be slightly bigger since they'll shrink down during cooking, but you get it. You're smart. You also look extra fabulous today, if I may say so. Those pants make your butt look great!) My point is that you want consistency in size for a risotto.

Shit. Where was I.

Okay so in a medium sized deep saucepan or wok (anything you'd do a stir fry in really) over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of the butter. Add the diced onions and cook them until they're soft and translucent and all kinds of golden-brown delicious. Remove them into a bowl and cover to keep warm.

2. Add the second tablespoon of butter, melt, and add the mushrooms, cooking THOSE until they're also kinds of soft and golden-brown delicious. Nom nom nom. Dump those in the same bowl with the onions.

3. Now the fun starts! If you have laundry that needs to go into the dryer or a wine glass that needs to be topped off, now's the time to do that because you're about to set up shop at the stove for about 30 minutes.

The mushrooms will have soaked up the majority of that butter, so go ahead and toss in that final tablespoon of butter along with the tablespoon of olive oil. Once the butter is melted, toss in your dry rice. This is a process called "toasting" and quite frankly it adds such a delicious deep, nutty flavour to rice that I think it should be done before cooking ANY rice dish. But anyway. Stir the rice very often so it doesn't get burned, and after about 3-4 minutes you should be able to smell that lovely nuttiness and see the grains beginning to turn translucent at the very edges.

4. Slowly stir in the wine and turn the heat down to a simmer. Keep stirring. Stir again. Park your ass at that stove and don't expect to go anywhere for the next 20 minutes, because that's what you do with risotto. You stir it and baby it and gently coax all that delicious starch out of those grains and TRUST ME, it is worth it.

5. Wine's all gone? (I mean the wine in the pan, not the one in your hand. I am *sure* that's gone.) Excellent, now time for the chicken broth. Add 1 cup of warm chicken broth, stir, and cook until mostly gone. Repeat with the second cup.

6. When it comes time to add the third cup, toss in your onions, mushrooms, peas, lemon zest, and cheese at this point as well. Keep cooking and stirring (gently now) until about half of the liquid is absorbed (it should still be reasonably creamy), and voila. You have risotto!

Serve as a side dish, or just enjoy an indulgent bowl of carb wonder.

Posted on December 10, 2014 .