Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Risotto Three Ways

We've recently had to cut back on our gluten intake. According to the science, overdoing gluten intake, as is the custom in the Western diet, does nothing good for you. Gluten gives foods a great, chewy texture but so far our experiences with the wonderful world of glutenless living hasn't made us miss the stuff much. Anyways, all this to say that since we are steering clear of gluten for the moment we've been experimenting with loads of stuff but also relying on some good old recipes which don't sound like a hippy chemist sat down to write it (just in case some hippy chemist cook is reading this, I have absolutely nothing against tapioca, coconut, rice, chickpea, almond or buckwheat flours...I'll even be sharing some recipes soon...imagine gluten, dairy free pizza!). So to get back on topic - again - the good old recipes I'm referring to are Asian foods which usually rely more on rice and soy than on wheat. In this case however, we're talking risotto. Gooey rice mixtures full of delicious potential.

I started off by making a monster batch of basic risotto from the ever-reliable Cook with Jamie book. The ingredients are:
- 1 and 3/4 pints vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 tbsp olive oil (something Mr. Oliver can't leave out of anything)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 large, finely chopped onion
- 4-5 sticks of celery, also finely chopped
- 1 pound 6 ounces risotto rice (I used medium grain rice and it was fine)
- 9 fluid ounces of vermouth or dry white wine.

The preparation is long but well worth the effort. Basically, you sweat the vegetables, incorporate the rice and slowly add warm stock, letting the rice fully soak it up before you add more. You repeat this till you have something almost very gooey. I say almost because this is a basic recipe in which you will add more deliciousness and liquid.

For anyone whose ever made their own pasta sauce or mixture, risotto is very similar. Just put stuff that works well together and add to the risotto. The only difference with the risotto is that you have to be careful not to add too little or too much liquid or you risk ruining the whole texture which is the whole point of risotto. Because if you don't care about texture, just microwave a bag of instant rice with a can of mushroom soup and stop reading my blog.

Our first recipe was an adaptation from the same, previously mentioned book. We replaced spinach for kale (it's what we had on hand), chopped and sautéed the kale in some olive oil with garlic. Once cooked down, we popped the vegetables in a food processor till we had a very fine mixture; to this we added a touch of nutmeg. We then finished off half of the basic risotto recipe with 1 and 1/4 pints of vegetable stock, mixed in the kale mixture, added the juice of half a lemon and added cheese: parmesan and goat's cheese for me, daiya for my wife. The great thing about risotto is that it tastes as if you drowned it in cream and butter but is absolutely the healthiest stuff on the planet besides laughing children ;)

Since we still had half the basic risotto recipe left, we decided to make a mushroom risotto. We did the same as above but instead of the kale we put mushrooms, onions, shallots, fresh thyme, garlic, and loads of pepper. I then gave a generous splash of lemon to brighten up what could be something very un-springlike. Topped with a bit of parmesan (or daiya) and olive oil, this dish was quick and easy. Quick because it was made with leftover basic risotto mixture and easy because we'd succeeded once so the odds of failing were much lower.

So if you're counting, that's two variations of risotto which build on one basic recipe. Yet here comes something even more beautiful. With the leftover mushroom risotto - this stuff is like the Energizer bunny - we formed patties, rolled in chickpea flour and fried in coconut oil. This was amazing! The smooth, gooey texture of the risotto was given yet more texture with the crunchy outside. To be fair, it would have been better if we'd done some proper breading (i.e. flour, eggs and then the chickpea flour) but we're also avoiding eggs for the moment. We served the mushroom risotto croquettes - cute name, non? - with some beer butt chicken and a simple salad.

To wrap this whole entry up, I'd like to formally state that I love risotto. We're good friends now. Maybe we'll go on a picnic together this summer by the seaside and I'll see if it's as lovely cool as it is warm.

No comments: