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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Making risotto like it’s no big deal

Few things fit the bill like a bowl of risotto.

And while it’s fancy Italian name renders it daunting and left to be bookmarked but never actually made, at the end of the day risotto is really just rice — cooked intimately.

Fortunately, with a little extra attention making risotto is easy.

So easy in fact, that it can be made without any recipe at all. Just add a ladle of liquid here and a gentle stir there — it’s essentially hands-free. This grants plenty of time to wash dishes and set the table, so by the time dinner is ready the rest of the evening is smooth sailing.

As long as you have the basic ingredients, a variety of things to throw in and maybe a good playlist to accompany your time in the kitchen, you’ve got dinner in the bag.

Risotto with asparagus, peas, goat cheese and a yolky egg. Photo credit: Grace Kerfoot

What you’ll need

  • Short-grain rice: Arborio is traditional, but brown rice, farro or even quinoa will work.
  • Stock: chicken, vegetable or even clam juice if you are planning on adding seafood later on.
  • Time: 30 to 40 minutes from start to finish.
  • Odds and ends: What’s lying in the fridge? Some dated broccoli, a strip of bacon, some frozen shrimp, a lone egg; maybe an unyielding wedge of Parmesan cheese? Any and all can be cooked up, tossed in and buried in a delicious mountain of tender, saucy, flavorful rice.

Are you ready?

1. Heat your stock in a deep pot. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer on low. You’ll need it in about seven minutes.

2. In a large and deep pan, heat up some fat (butter or olive oil). Sauté an onion, some garlic, maybe some bacon and mushrooms if you have them.

3. Add your rice, keeping in mind that it will double in size by the time you are done. Try to coat each granule with oil, slightly toasting the rice as you go.

4. Add a splash of wine, beer or sherry. Or for the youngsters, a splash of vinegar.

5. Now add a ladleful of stock to the rice. Stir occasionally. Let it bubble but not ferociously. When the rice absorbs the stock, just add another ladle. If you run out of stock, just add water to the stockpot. Keep adding and stirring until the rice swells and thickens — about 30 minutes.

6. Taste your rice once you see it has plumped up. It should still be a bit saucy but not crunchy or mushy — the goal is not to make oatmeal. If you’re there, then it’s time to add some extras. A knob of butter, blue cheese or Parmesan, some frozen peas, blanched asparagus, mint, cooked shrimp or chicken. Nothing is off limits here.

And just like that you’re done. You straight-up just made risotto without a recipe. You killed dinner, dishes and the dilemma of using up odds and ends in the fridge with one stone.

Grace Kerfoot can be reached at [email protected] or @gracekerf on Twitter.

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