Monday, December 29, 2014

Red Pepper Risotto

Risotto is notoriously one of the most intimidating kitchen undertakings for new cooks. Or seasoned ones, actually. I know I was terrified of making it, especially after going to Italy and eating it all the time. First, I was scared to know how much butter and cream was it it. Second, I knew there was a definite serving temperature requirement: if it got cold it'd be a gelatinous blob of ice. Thirdly, I assumed it'd take hours to make.

These thoughts were incorrect. Risotto is actually creamy because of the starches that develop when the rice cooks. The temperature requirement is kind of true, but if you serve it hot, everything is fine. And the entire process took about 30-40 minutes - including chopping/prep time. Not to shabby.

I had some roasted red peppers and chicken thighs in the fridge so I decided to plan the risotto around that. Just chop everything into about the same sized pieces, fry the chicken in olive oil until it is cooked through - then add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili flakes. Then I added the red pepper and set this aside until the rice was ready.

For the rice, make sure you purchase "arborio." In a saucepan, heat 6 cups of chicken stock - don't let it boil or even simmer...just warm it through. In a nonstick pan, melt 2 Tbs olive oil and fry 1/2 of a finely chopped onion until it's translucent. Add 1 1/2 cups rice and fry until the rice is coated - about 3 minutes.  Pour in 1/2 cup white wine and a pinch of salt. Now, start incorporating the stock, 1 cup at a time and making sure it absorbs completely before adding the next increment. This should take about 25 minutes and you might not need all 6 cups of stock. The end consistency is going to be a little looser than rice pudding - the rice shouldn't be super mushy or have a bite to it. I add 1 tsp fresh thyme right at the end for flavor. Turn off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and 2 Tbs butter.

Serve up your risotto with a nice helping of the chicken/pepper mixture on top:

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