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Old 11-28-2004, 11:28 AM   #1
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Artichoke Risotto

Artichoke Risotto

3 cloves garlic
1.5 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
10 cherry tomatoes - quartered
4 cups of stock
1 large jar artichokes drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons fresh chopped mint

Combine garlic and ¼ cup chicken stock in a large skillet and cook over med-low heat until garlic is soft.

Add rice and stir until thoroughly combined.

Raise Heat to Medium and add white wine very slowly stirring all the while. When the wine is completely absorbed into the mixture, add the tomatoes and artichokes and stir until completely combined.

Add the remaining chicken stock gradually, ½ cup at a time. Allow each addition of stock to be absorbed into the rice mixture before adding the next.

Optional: Add fresh mint and serve immediately.

Serves 4


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Old 11-28-2004, 06:24 PM   #2
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Wow. Really, really YUM here....

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Old 11-28-2004, 06:47 PM   #3
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too much liquid to start IMHO :)

The rice must be impregnated with the butter or if you are using it olive oil and wine. Mix them very slowly at a high heat until the rice is kind of translucent.

Use fresh chicken stock and not store brought stock! Risotto is a dish that you just cannot make unless you use fresh stock. Remember, the rice is going to be drinking that liquid!!!! It has to be good. The whole dish depends on it :)

Remember that the stock must be kept hotter than your rice. This is important!

Also important KEEP stirring the rice! Never stop! The whole thing should take about 20 mins.

Half a cup of stock at a time is far too much. Maybe a ladle full should be added. ONLY A LITTLE at a time. This is most important!!! Let the rice sip a the stock. Once it is absorbed then add a little more. Keep stirring. Let it drink. Keep stirring.

After about 20 mins you should be left with a creamy rice.

Add pamasan cheese into the finished result!

I'm sorry :) but there is just no other way to cook risotto. It must be done properly or you will end up with a rice dish but NOT risotto. The cooking method must be followed or the rice won't let go of its starch or absorb the liquid properly.

To hvae it right you shold be left with a thick and creamy rice dish with only a little liquid. Too many times I have seen this made and it looks like soup!

Sorry about the corrections GB!!! Please dont take it personally and I am not trying to be a "know it all" I dont know that much... but I do know how to cook risotto ;)
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Old 11-28-2004, 07:04 PM   #4
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Leaf Storm, please try this recipe before saying it is wrong. The chicken stock that the garlic is cooked in during the beginning stages is gone by the time you add the rice. Yes you do add 1 cup of wine at the beginning which some people would think is too much, but trust me and try it. I have made this recipe a lot and the end result is a very creamy rice.

I have made this for a relative who is a chef and she commended me on it saying that not very many people can pull off a good risotto, but mine is one she would serve in her restaurant.
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Old 11-28-2004, 07:06 PM   #5
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:) Ok, well as you say i have not tried it.

for interest here is a page from an Italian regarding Risotto. It explaines the whole thing and far better than I could!

Risotto Rules
Rice is the Key

I don't think you can say you've really experienced great Italian food until you've had the chance to set your sights on, and touch your tongue to, a great risotto.

Make no bones about it. I'm a single-minded, dedicated, devoted, follower, maker and eater of risotto. Among the rice dishes in my repertoire, risotto rules. Gumbo's great, and I've had some perfectly delicious paellas. And obviously there's an entire encyclopedia about the rice cooking of Asia which is really a whole 'nother rice world. But in my book, the height of rice cooking is risotto.

What's Risotto Anyways?

Risotto is the rice dish of northern Italy. In the north of Italy, up around the Piedmont, Milan, Lombardy, and the area of Venice, rice rules the day.

Rice came to Italy sometime in the 10th century, probably brought to Sicily by Arab conquerors. The north of Italy took to rice farming four to five hundred years later, in an era when plague and famine were making simple survival difficult. The area has remained the premier rice growing and rice eating areas of Italy to this day. In the same way that people in the rest of Italy put plates of piping hot pasta on the table at every main meal, so too do northerners resort to rice.

And more often than not, rice in northern Italy means risotto.

Premise: Risotto is to rice what pasta is to wheat.

An incredibly delicious, relatively simple way to take the natural goodness of the grain to truly great heights by making it the vehicle for all sorts of exceptional ingredients. The result is a dish with a rare combination of grandeur and down to earth goodness that few others can match.

Like pasta, risotto can be made from start to finish in under thirty minutes. Both pasta and risotto are well suited to all sorts of occasions, from fancy meal to simply cleaning out whatever happens to be left over in the refrigerator. Like pasta, risotto is great comfort food. A hot, creamy bowl of risotto is a great way to get through a cold winter night. Like pasta, it can be made with or without meat. They're both great with cheese. And like pasta, risotto seems right to be eaten often. Once you get going on it, you may not get to eat it often enough. I know I don't.

In the north of Italy, up around the Piedmont, Milan, Lombardy, and the area of Venice, rice rules the day.

I would be remiss though, if I didn't set the record straight up front and tell you that making risotto is a little more difficult than making pasta. Not too difficult. But not quite as simple as spaghetti with bottled sauce. Still, once you learn the basic technique for making risotto, you can use it to make dozens of different risottos.

Making great risotto requires attention to both process and content. To help you get at the glories of great risotto, I tried to put down my version of the rules of great risotto making. Like Dorothy on her way to Oz, if you follow the yellow brick road of Risotto Rules, you'll find a healthy ration of risotto recipes that will lead you to a wealth of really optimal eating experiences.

Preview: Risotto Making at a Glance

The process for making all risottos (I ought really to say "risotti," which would be the accurate Italian plural, and would make my Daniela Gobetti my Italian teacher smile)...so the process for making all risotti is essentially the same. Ready?

Here's an overview of a basic risotto recipe just to set the table in your mind:

Start by setting your broth on the burner to heat up. While it's warming, start sautéing a bit of chopped onion and/or garlic (you choose) in a little butter and/or olive oil(again you can decide). When the onion is soft, add the rice. Start stirring. sauté for a few minutes til the rice is well coated with the oil/butter.

Now you're ready to start adding liquid. Many people choose to begin with a glass of wine (in the pot, not in the hand), after which comes the broth. The key to adding the broth is to add a little at a time. And to keep stirring while the rice absorbs it. When it's absorbed, add a little more. Stir. Stir. Add a little more. Stir, stop, stir. Add a little more. Stir, stop, stir. The dish is done about eighteen or so minutes later when the rice is al dente (cooked through, but still a bit firm in the middle). Quickly add your cheese or other ingredients. Stir well. Serve. Eat it while it's hot.

If you're in a hurry, that's enough info to get you going. If you're up for a more in depth look into the pot of risotto making, read on.

Rule #1: Use Italian Rice!!!!

The rice is the key. Simple and straight, if you want to make a great - or even just a good - risotto - you've got to get the right rice. There's no way around it. It's critical. And it's got to be Italian.

I'm not being ethnocentric here. It's just that contrary to the faulty advice you come across in the occasional odd food column, other rices won't make risotto. If you make risotto with non-Italian rice, it may taste good but it won't be risotto. To quote Corby Kummer, writing in The Atlantic, "If you try to make risotto with long-grain rice you will get pilaf, even if you keep stirring and add the broth only as it is absorbed."

You don't need to be an agronomist to tell that Italian rice is different from what you're used to. Italian rice is unlike any other rice I've ever seen or eaten. Pour a little into the palm of your hand; pleasantly plump, oval shaped, white grains. Much fatter than the thin long-grained rice which is what most of us grew up on.

If you look closely, you'll find the biggest part of each grain is nearly transparent, almost opalescent, with that same kind of polished, smooth surface that I remember from when I was a kid, playing with tiny well worn grains of sand on the beach. Inside each grain, you can see a spot of white, la perla ("the pearl"). The pearl at the center is actually less developed starch. The translucent outer part of the grain is the hard, dense starch which bonds so creamily with the broth while the risotto is cooking. The high level of starch (amylopectin) in the grain is what gives Italian rice it's amazing ability to absorb a lot of liquid, yet at the same time retain its integrity - each grain stays independent, yet clings closely, creamily, to its neighbor. No other rice I know of is able to pull off this seemingly contradictory feat. (Spanish rice from Valencia is the closest, but still, it doesn't cook up quite the same.)

Risotto Still Life

Paint a picture of the finished dish:

Round glass bowl with a mound of steaming, stunning , softly gilded, richly creamy, savory rice; each grain still distinct, yet each consciously clinging to its neighbor. The hot risotto is graced with a handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese and a generous twist of coarsely ground black pepper. To the left, green salad dressed with great olive oil and aged red wine vinegar. To the right, a good loaf of Farm Bread (preferably warmed to fight the winter chill). So, eat already! When you bite into a forkful of risotto you'll find a complimentary contrast between the overall creaminess of the dish and the al dente firmness that remains in the heart of each grain of rice. I don't know if I'm quite making my feelings clear here. There is nothing like eating a great risotto for dinner! I love this dish!

Rule # 2: Buy - or Make - Better Broth

It's the broth which is going to be the main liquid you add to the pot. And because the broth is what the rice is "drinking" it only makes sense to feed your rice a healthy, flavorful diet. Better in, better out. So start with a good broth. Homemade is great if you've got the time. If you don't, we'll sell you our homemade chicken broth, or ham stock. And Monahan's in Kerrytown has excellent fish stock for sale.

In all you'll need roughly about three times as much broth by volume as you use dry rice. I find that a quart and a quarter to a quart and a half is about right for a half pound of rice, making two very generous main dish portions, or four to six first course servings.

Shopping for Other Ingredients

There's really three key ingredients to making a great risotto: the rice, the broth, and, much more often than not, cheese.

There's really three key ingredients to making a great risotto: the rice, the broth, and, much more often than not, cheese. And all risotto starts with some onion and either butter or olive oil. Beyond that there's not much to limit what else you can put in. I've yet to find anything reasonable that couldn't be added to a good risotto. Vegetables of any sort, most any cheese, olives, meat, fish, chicken. Vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, cream, herbs, nuts, olives, seafood, saffron, spices.

From my experience though, additional risotto ingredients seem to work well in pairs, threesomes at best. More than four is a crowd that fogs up the flavor of the finished dish. So buy the best, but don't try to fit everything you ever liked to eat into a single potful. (Just make another risotto.)

I ought to mention the wine here. After the rice has been sautéed, most risotto recipes call for the first addition to the pan to be a half a glass of white wine. The wine adds a bit of depth, a touch of extra character, to the finished dish. But I've certainly made perfectly delicious risotto without the wine, so I'll leave the call to you. As always, the better the wine, the better the risotto. Usually though, you'll find yourself using a glass of the open bottle in the refrigerator, or a bit of whatever you're drinking before dinner.

If I had to pick just one recipe, I think my favorite risotto would be one with wild mushrooms and Fontina val D'Aosta cheese. Others on my top ten would be gorgonzola and walnuts; goat cheese and arugula; salmon and saffron; roasted red peppers and pine nuts. Last month I made a great risotto with cape scallops, radicchio and a bit of Olio Agrumato (an incredible oil of lemons and olives.)

Once you've done your shopping you're ready to start preparing the dish.

Impregnate the Rice/Start the Cooking

Start with a wide, heavy pot. You want the rice to have room to roam while the risotto is cooking. Non-stick pots can help keep your rice from sticking, though you'll still have a lot of stirring to do.

Heat a little olive oil and/or butter in the pot. You can use either or both - each has its advocates. I usually use olive oil, but many believe that butter makes better risotto; others advocate using a little of each.

When the oil is hot, sauté a little chopped onion. sauté til it's soft and golden. Add the rice. Don't rinse the rice. Just pour it right out of the bag. A hefty handful, per person, which translates into about 4 ounces (by weight) per person for a generous main dish serving, about 2 ounces per person for a first course. Me, I always like to have a little leftover, so I add an extra shake from the rice bag to the pot.

Stir to coat the rice with oil and sauté it for a couple of minutes. Look into the pot and you'll see a melange of soft golden onion pieces and hard white rice grains. In a couple of minutes, the rice should be hot, glistening with a thin coat of oil or butter. This stage of the cooking - the tostatura - is an important part of what makes risotto so different from most rice cooking we're used to. It serves a pair of purposes. First it seals the rice's high natural starch content into the grain. Secondly it introduces the flavor of the oil and onion into the rice.

In her classic cookbook, "Italian Food," Elizabeth David says to stir the rice in the oil and butter til "it is well impregnated." I love that line! "Impregnate" the rice, and eighteen or so stirring minutes later it's given birth to a creamy, comforting bowl of finished risotto.

Rule #3: Add the Broth Slowly (and keep it hot)

After the rice has been "impregnated," it's time to start adding the broth. You want the broth to be hotter than the rice, so that when you add it to the pot it doesn't cool down the rice, (which would detract from the quality of your risotto) so be sure to bring it to a boil.

Now, before you start adding broth, repeat after me. "Add the broth slowly." "I will not dump all the broth into the pot at one time." You may want to. But you won't. I'm sure it will cross your mind, as it used to do mine, to just dump the liquid in the pot in one fell swoop, and get it over with. But fight the temptation. Your risotto won't be the same.

Now, before you start adding broth, repeat after me. "Add the broth slowly." "I will not dump all the broth into the pot at one time."

So, remember, add the broth slowly. Let's say a two ounce ladelful at a time. Enough so that the rice stays wet, surrounded by small rivulets of boiling broth, but never so much that it runs the risk of drowning. You don't want to see "large bodies of water" in the pot. Just small rivers running 'round the rice as it simmers. When the rice has absorbed all the liquid from the last ladelful, add another one. Keep stirring. Keep going.

Rule # 4: Keep the Rice Pot Hot.

How hot is hot enough? When you add the first bit of liquid it should literally go up in smoke. Well, let's say steam. When the liquid hits the pan you want to hear a swish, a swoosh. A puff of steam ought to go up from the pan. No puff? Then the pan isn't hot enough. (If you're doing all this for the first time, then test the heat by dropping a spoonful of broth in the pot first to "test the waters." Not hot enough, increase your heat a bit, then try again in a minute.)

When you add the liquid you'll see the rice grains start juking and jumping; like little Mexican jumping beans in the broth. If the rice isn't jitterbugging, then you need more heat.

On the other hand, having your pot too hot isn't any good either. If the rice is sticking almost instantly to the bottom of the pot no matter how much you stir, it's too hot. Turn it down.

Rule # 5: Stir, stir, stir/Stir it Up

So, as you've gathered by now, there is a fair amount of stirring involved in making a good risotto. Once you get the hang of this thing, you don't really don't have to stir every single second that the pot is on the stove. How much do you stir? Enough so that the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and that the liquid and rice stay evenly distributed. In my experience there's plenty of time between stirs to insert a bit of simple salad making; tear the lettuce, stir, slice some cucumber, stir, toss on a few olives, stir. You get the idea.

What do you stir with? I stir with a wooden spoon. (Elizabeth David recommends using a wooden fork as an even gentler implement.) Stir gently. You don't want to pound your rice down to puree. So go easy on it - you're not beating egg whites here. Just soft, leisurely, steady stirring.

For some reason, my mind keeps coming back to the stirring. There's something about it, something, subtly, well, stirring.

Partly, the stirring kind of strikes me as un-American - I guess it's because it seemingly defies the myth of progress. There's no way to "stir better," or "faster," and certainly no way to effectively eliminate it. Well, I take that back. You can eliminate the stirring. This is a free country. Like I keep telling the staff at the Deli, "you can do whatever you want. There's just consequences." And in this case, the consequences are that you'll be eating inferior risotto.

Maybe what we need in this country is more stirring; more people stirring the pot of life smoothly and gently and steadily onward, stopping long enough to appreciate the aromas rising from the pot, rather than heaving the whole thing up against the proverbial wall in fits of blame and frustration. You can't rush a good risotto, nor can you rush life. You just keep stirring. After a while, good things happen.

Rule # 6: Adding the Other Ingredients

As a general rule, ingredients from which you are mainly looking for a contribution of flavor - as opposed to appearance - can be added early on. Chopped fennel, celery, shallots or carrots might go in in the initial sautéing with the onion. Other ingredients can be added to (or, blanched in) the broth as it heats, to add their flavor there - mushrooms or asparagus for example.

On the other hand, ingredients which you want to be clearly identifiable and distinguishable when the risotto comes to the table are best added near the end, so that they aren't broken to bits by the stirring, or overcooked in the pot. Salmon, chicken, arugola come to mind as ingredients I'd add as the risotto reached the end of the cooking process. Cheese should also be added at the end of the very end of the cooking process.

Reaching the Finish

One of the things I've come to like most about making risotto is watching the grains of rice "grow up" before my eyes. It's like watching the entire growing cycle in twenty minutes. The rice starts as a few handfuls of dry, hard, white grains, then slowly begins to plump as it absorbs the broth. Like fruit ripening on the tree it gets softer, bigger and "juicier" as it moves closer and closer to the reaching the peak of perfection. You've hit the right degree of ripeness when you bite into the rice grain and you hit an ideal balance of soft creamy exterior with slightly firm, just slightly chewy center. You're looking for the same kind of "al dente" texture you want in perfectly cooked pasta.

Depending on the variety of Italian rice you use, the level of heat and the age of the rice, that could be somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes - the only way to know for sure is to start tasting a grain or two at about the fifteen minute mark. Just before the rice is done, add any final ingredients: cheese, fish, whatever. Stir well (of course.) One of the things I've come to like most about making risotto is watching the grains of rice "grow up" before my eyes.

A Trio of Tips on Finishing Your Risotto

When the risotto seems done and ready to remove from the stove, add one last ladelful of broth. This gives the risotto something to "sip on" as it sits in the bowl for a minute or two before you eat, leaves it with a fine creamy texture, and keeps it from getting too dry.

In addition you may want to add a spoonful of butter at the last minute. This is known in Italian as the "mantecatura." As the butter melts it coats each grain of rice, yielding a richer, creamier risotto.

Finally, some folks recommend that you let the risotto rest for just a minute or two between its departure from the stove and the actual eating in order to let the flavors meld fully. But don't wait too long. This isn't a dish you can prepare in advance and then have sitting around. It's meant to be eaten right after it's cooked. Risotto rules the roost best when it's still steaming hot from the stove.

Pass the Parmigiano Reggiano

I don't think I've made more than a few risotti without grating on some Parmigiano Reggiano before I bring it to the table. (Actually we eat on the floor, not the table, but you get the idea.) There's something about the sweet, subtle nuttiness of the cheese that makes it the ideal end to risotto preparation. It's like breaking the champagne bottle on the bow of a new ship - cheers! It's ready to make the voyage to the table.

Standard Italian cooking wisdom dictates that parmesan not be added to risotto made with fish or seafood. Usually I add it anyways. But you can make that call for yourself.

(As always, I'd rather use a tiny amount of great Parmigiano than a whole handful of that green can stuff. Of course my particular preference for Parmigiano is enhanced because once I've got it out on the counter, I can sneak a sliver or two to tide me over while the risotto is cooking. If you're looking for a less costly alternative to top your risotto off with, try a bit of Swiss Sbrinz. More buttery, not quite as nutty, it's still a great grating cheese.)

Try it at Least Twice

When I'm trying to get one of my friends to try making risotto for the first time, I always ask them to promise to make it twice. The first time I figure, they don't really know what they're doing, and they're natural nervousness, combined with the fact they (like me) didn't grow up with risotto, make it not unlikely that their first effort is going to be less than memorable. I know mine was. But the second time with a bit of experience and half an idea of what the stuff is supposed to look like, I figure they're likely to start finding out what I learned a while back. That risotto is one of the great rice dishes, one of the great dishes period, that the world has yet to invent. Invent your own. Eat risotto tonight.

Cold Weather Cooking

This is the time of year I love risotto most. When it's way too cold for comfort outside. When I really, really need a bowl of something very warm and very warming and comforting and ... something to help get me through til the spring. Risotto's great to eat the rest of the year too, but there's something about knowing I'm making risotto for dinner in winter that helps get me through some otherwise dismal days. Risotto rules!
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Old 03-17-2005, 04:21 PM   #6
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Sorry, but I totaly fail to see where GB's recipe strays much, if at all, from your "rules" (which I agree with). I make risotto all the time and know the rules and GB's method is right on. He doesn't use any oil or butter at the beginning (which I do) or onion/shallot/celery (which i do in any risotto) but IMO those are minor changes. Other than that, it follows the rules.

Maybe it should be noted that the stock must be hot and the rice mush be pretty constantly stirred (massaged) .... and that you might need more liquid (depending on the rice) ...

But all in all, it appears to me to be a classic risotto recipe. And a good one!
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Old 03-18-2005, 03:12 AM   #7
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The amount of time and care that you need to put into risotto is overrated. I'm not saying that you can totally ignore it, but if you know what you're doing, risotto does not have to be a total time consuming experience.
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Old 03-18-2005, 11:46 AM   #8
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Looks terrific. You tried it, you made it, & got great reviews. That's more than good enough for me. Thanx GB!

P.S. In another post, I mentioned how great your avatar polenta looked & would love your recipe. If you have a chance could you post it for us? Perhaps I missed it. Thanx in advance, GB.
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Old 03-19-2005, 09:36 AM   #9
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Hi Mish,

I saw that post and responded, but I am always happy to post again. Here is what I wrote. Let me know if you have any questions because this is all typed from memory ;)

Originally Posted by GB
Polenta Oscar was actually quite easy to make. I made it a few years back the night of the Oscar awards. My wife really likes watching them, But I cant stand it. Anyway I made some polenta which was just 4 cups water (or I might have used chicken stock) over med-high heat. Sprinkle in 1 cup cornmeal in a slow steady stream, stirring constantly. stir until done (I just go by mouth feel). At the end I add some paremsan regiano cheese. I am not sure of how much, but I used a decent amount. take it out of the pan and put it on a cookie sheet to let cook. While it was cooling I went on the internet and found a picture of the Oscar statue. I printed it out and cut it out to use as a template. Once the polenta had cooled and firmed up I used the template and a knife to trace the shape and cut out a bunch of polenta oscars and other shapes. I then pan fried then in some olive oil until golden brown. I served this with my Bolognese Sauce (recipe can be found here... Bolognese Sauce)
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Old 03-19-2005, 10:19 AM   #10
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Thank you GB. What a clever idea re Oscar shapes:!: Sounds like fun to experiment with.

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