If you are like me, you Googled “Super Easy Risotto that you Don’t Have to Stir” because life is hard and you don’t want to fuss for your lunch, yet you demand to have risotto over having a peanut butter sandwich. This is not that recipe. You will be stirring.
This story starts a few weeks back where a cartoon bubble with a picture of risotto gets planted in over my head and I begin to obsess. I try a few Google searches and learn the basics of how to make risotto. I learn that in its most basic form, you need special rice and time. Time dedicated to standing at the stove stirring. Nothing else.
I rise to the challenge in the way only I can do, by pleading with Facebook and Twitter to tell me where I can buy an awesome risotto for supper at local restaurants. This social-media based searched resulted in some responses that were very encouraging, most telling me how “easy” it is to make it myself. The most inspiring was a message from Teresa Spinelli from the Italian Centre Shop because she gave me two very viable options:
1) Come to the Italian Centre Shop and select an arborio rice from their nicely stocked shelves and make it myself, or,
2) Have supper at Massimo’s Cucino Italiano restaurant and eat their daily risotto special.
I did both.
Michael and I made reservations at Massimo’s for our supper that night, but not until after he and I argued for several minutes about which Italian Centre Shop location it was at, if it had a pizza oven, and did Teresa mean the little coffee shop attached to the South Side location?
To clear this up:
The South Side store has Massimo’s (complete with pizza oven and daily risotto), as well as the coffee shop, Spinelli’s Bar Italia. All three can be found at 5012 104A Street, Edmonton.
The new west end store at 17010 90th Ave, and the original shop located in Little Italy at 10878 95 ST NW have Spinelli’s Bar Italia attached as well.
We were pleased to discover delicious Italian fare at Massimo’s without the month-long reservation wait time one finds with Corso 32. Not to pit one against the other, both are fine establishments and offer amazing food, but we felt far more comfortable and at home in Massimo’s. They had a daily risotto which provided a very satisfying fix to my craving.
As we are early eaters, we still had time to shop in the Italian Centre shop for a package of arborio rice. Michael and I like to go for a little walk after supper to aid in digestion. This evening, we were delighted to take our stroll through aisles of varieties of canned tomatoes, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, pastas, rice, dried beans, baked goods, fresh produce, and our highlight, olives, meats and cheeses. Even on full stomachs, my mind was inspired to cook greatness!
Fast forward two weeks, and here we are on a lazy Saturday. I am armed with:
1-900 mL box chicken stock. You can use your own made-from-scratch-stock, which we all know is better, but impossible if you haven’t roasted a whole chicken in well over a year
1/2 cup white wine (reserve the rest of the bottle for the cook)
Butter (2 – 3 tablespoons)
Olive or vegetable oil (a glug – or about one tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
Parmesan cheese – grated (1/4 to 1/2 cup)
Onion (I used a half a medium onion), or one or two shallots (finely chopped)
Here’s what you do to make a basic risotto:
1) Don house slippers with arch support. You will be stirring risotto for at least the next 30 minutes of your life. Be comfortable:
2) Select iTunes playlist that will entertain you non-stop for the next 30 to 40 minutes. I cannot stress enough that you will be TIED to your stove. I made the error about 20 minutes in, to go to the bedroom to change out of my going-out-for-coffee-with-a-friend-attire into my cooking-risotto-for-one-attire. I only very narrowly averted DISASTER because of swift stirring and gentle cooing and apologies to the risotto.
3) Pour chicken broth in pot, and bring to a simmer on the stove.
4) Finely chop an onion.
5) Grate about a 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
6) Melt about two tablespoons of butter along with a glug of vegetable oil in a heavy saucepan.
7) Add the finely chopped onion, and cooked it on medium low until soft and translucent.
8) Add 1 1/2 cups arborio rice, stirring steadily about two to three minutes.
9) Add 1/2 cup white wine, stirring steadily until the wine is absorbed in the rice.
10) Add a ladle full (or tea-cup full) of hot chicken broth, stirring steadily until the broth is absorbed in the rice. Sip glass of wine reserved for the cook.
11) Repeat step 10 for the next 30 minutes, or, more accurately, until the rice is tender and liquid absorbed. You may run out of broth before the rice gets tender. If this happens, keep adding more broth. I had the kettle boiled and a packaged dry chicken stock on the ready in case this happened. But it didn’t.
12) When the rice is tender, the broth absorbed, stir in your grated Parmesan and another tablespoon of butter.
13) Salt if needed.
14) EAT IT! Risotto, as I can attest to from experience, does not have the same allure once it is cooled and reheated. It’s still good, but it’s not the same. Life’s too short to eat left over risotto. Eat it fresh with reckless abandon! Then have a nap. That’s what I did.