Risotto — giver of life, emitter of warmth, harbinger of satisfaction — how I love you.
What’s that you say, a man can’t love a meal? Sucks to you, hypothetical person! Winter is descending upon us, and warm dinners are a must. So here’s a recipe that’s sure to warm you up—body and soul.
Risotto is great, simply because once you get the basic idea down, coming up with your own recipe is a breeze. And it’s a great way to impress your friends. Or your family. Or someone else’s family.
The only downside is that risotto is somewhat labour-intensive. Once the rice starts cooking, you have to keep stirring every two minutes or so. This recipe is designed to give you an idea of the basic structure of risotto. The secondary ingredients (meat and veggies) can be whatever you want them to be. I went with chicken, asparagus and leeks. There are tons of vegetarian versions of risotto too. In theory you can do a vegan risotto, but then it’s really just a paella (which is also delicious). All in all, risotto doesn’t take quite as long as it seems, and you can always do some steps simultaneously. However, this is not a recipe for someone in a rush. As I said before, it takes love.
1 1/2 cup arborio (short grain) rice
5 cups chicken/vegetable stock*
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
*I only use 4 cups stock, then add water for the rest
1/2 bunch asparagus, chopped, thick ends discarded
1-2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
Salt and pepper
2 medium leeks (white/pale parts only), halved, thinly sliced crosswise, and rinsed in a bowl of water
1/3-1/2 cup whipping cream
Step 1. If you’re including them, put the cream and leeks in a small saucepan or pot on medium-high heat. Once the cream starts boiling, turn down to medium-low heat, stirring often, until leeks are tender. About 10-15 minutes total. Set aside.
Step 2. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a frying pan on medium heat, and sauté the asparagus for 3-5 minutes. Remove the asparagus, and throw in the chicken pieces. Cook all the way through (10 minutes) adding salt and pepper to taste. Set aside with asparagus.
Step 3. Heat up the broth in a medium-sized pot.
Step 4. In another fairly large pot melt the remaining butter on medium heat. Then, add the onion and cook until tender (7 minutes). Next up, add the rice, and stir vigourously. If you’re using wine, add it and stir until mostly absorbed (1minute). Add 1 cup of the hot broth and let simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add more broth, half a cup at a time, stirring often. Wait for each addition to be absorbed before adding the next. Repeat until rice is tender and creamy (20-25min).
Step 5. Stir in the creamed leeks, then the chicken and asparagus, then the cheese. Transfer to a large bowl—and enjoy!
Satisfies 4-6 people.
Author’s Note: This dish is inspired by a recipe of my father’s.