Sunday, January 5, 2020

Comfort Food for Sunday: Creamy Risotto


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I'm in New York today, enjoying my Christmas present from my girls: tickets for the Tony--award-winning revival of OKLAHOMA. But don't worry, you're in better hands than mine when it come to cooking: here's Celia Wakefield with another amazing recipe.


With the New Year, JRW resolve rather than resolution, plus Saturday's real resolutions; it is time for comfort food. There is nothing more comforting (well maybe soup and grilled cheese), than a delicious risotto. I wanted to try very slow cooked onion, which is great, but there's no need to cook the onions quite as slowly as I did. Just don't let them brown. In addition, no need to sauté the fennel separately; just add it to the onion mix.  There is always risotto rice my store cupboard. I'll use bought stock if I have to. But if you have time, this is a gentle delicious dish,

Veggie Risotto feeds 2-3 people

Prepare;
1 large / 2 small - medium onions, chopped finely
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 Leek, cleaned and chopped finely, (optional)
1-2 fennel bulbs, chopped finely, to give at least 1 1/2 cups
2 tblsp. olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
Approximately 2+ tblsp. Fresh Rosemary and Thyme

Method:
Melt the butter over low heat in a heavy pan. Add the onions, keep heat low, no browning preferably, and cook, stirring every 5-10 minutes. The idea is to get onions to a jammy consistency. Add leek and mix in once the onions turn translucent. Add garlic with everything on a low heat.
In a second pan, large enough to cook the risotto, heat the olive oil and gently sauté the fennel till part cooked and then remove from pan, saving the olive oil for the rice

This can all be done in advance. While the onion mixture is cooking, chop the herbs as finely as you can


No prep needed here:

1 cup risotto rice
1/3 cup Marsala or white wine
3+ cups good Chicken / Turkey stock, warmed
1/2 - cup grated Parmesan
Olive oil if needed
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat your oven to 325 degreesF


Heat the the pan in which the fennel was cooked, adding a little more olive oil if necessary.
Add the dry rice and spread.
Cook the rice, stirring as necessary until it becomes cloudy. Try not to brown it.
Pour in the wine, bring to the boil
Add the onions, leek, fennel and garlic, mix in
Add approximately half the warmed stock, mix well in including any rice stuck to the side
Bring to the boil, stir, then put the pan in the heated oven
Set your timer for 15+ minutes and return to your book
When the timer goes, add at least half of the remaining stock and the herbs, reset timer
Risotto rice takes approximately 25-40 minutes to cook. Test a grain by breaking it in half, or tasting it. If wished some of the cheese and a small amount of heavy cream can be added here as cooking finishes to add an extra creamy taste.

Serve from the pan and offer the remaining parmigiana to taste.

JULIA: Celia made this for me and Youngest and I can attest 1) that it's care-free enough to make while having a drink and chatting with friends and  2) it's ridiculously tasty and perfect for a cold night. Celia and I agreed it could be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock for chicken stock. 

38 comments:

  1. Yum . . . I’m looking forward to trying this risotto! Thanks for the recipe, Celia.

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  2. I have serious trouble digesting anything from the onion family, so the recipe is a non-starter here, but wow! Enjoy that new production of Oklahoma, Julia! That looks AMAZING! Your girls did well! Report back when you can, because we can all enjoy (vicariously) a knock-out theatrical experience!

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    1. Gigi, that sounds like a trying condition, I am sorry. I must admit that I am your opposite, though unlike the ancient Romans, I don't line or eat raw onion if I can avoid it. The good news is that to make risotto as you probably know; a pan olive oil, risotto rice, stock with wine if liked, Parmesan, salt and pepper is really all that's needed.

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    2. The onion thing is a pain. It seems to run in the family, since my mother and sister were/are similarly afflicted. I can usually work around it, and I can even deal with dried/powdered onion in recipes that are then cooked well. It's a big problem, though, when I eat out and get an otherwise delicious dish that is garnished with chives, meaning I either have to pick them all off, or send it back.

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  3. That sounds yummy, Celia. And enjoy Oklahoma, Julia. I never forget an early Prairie Home Companion where, in one of the skits, Garrison was riffing on the perfect way to boost self-confidence. Go stand behind your living room drapes, then burst out singing Oklahoma at the top of your lungs. It was hilarious - but it works. Try it (possibly when you're alone in the house..)!

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  4. Have a blast Julia! And thank you for the recipe Celia. Happy Sunday everyone

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    1. Very welcome, Roberta. But my guess is you cook this, probably with seafood. Another fav.

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  5. Oh Julia! What a wonderful Christmas present! Enjoy! My husband and I saw the revival of South Pacific and it was still fabulous.
    I love risotto and love to make it. Thanks, Celia, for this recipe. I have never tried it with leeks and endive, both of which I love. I usually make mine with leafy greens (kale, Swiss chard, etc.) which I chiffonade and blanch before adding. Sometimes I add mushrooms too. Delicious any way and I can't wait to try your recipe.

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    1. Take a look at the basics I wrote for Gigi. They are my humping off point. I love cooking it with greens too.

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  6. The vegetarian risotto sounds wonderful. Leeks and fennel in the same recipe, ooo, la-la! Julia, enjoy Oklahoma, what a super present! We saw a revival of it at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT last year and really loved it. Our town high schools did a summer stock of it with returning college students and high school students one summer long ago. If I remember correctly, a soon-to-be very famous Broadway actor was the lead one night!

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  7. Sounds yummy. Our go-to for cold "I need a comforting dinner" is chicken and rice casserole.

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    1. Chicken and rice, yes. When oldest g'son was tiny, his most requested dinner was, "buck, buck and reece". There are so many different combos of that.

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  8. Ooh, Celia, this sounds luscious. Thank you for the recipe, and for all the cooking tips. The ability to make risotto, omelets, soup, stew, and bread ought to be considered baseline for home cooks, in my opinion. Each of those is a good start for a meal.

    I've never tried cooking with fennel, so I may have to try this. But if I can't find the bulbs locally (they are not always available), would mushrooms work as well?

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    1. PS Enjoy Oklahoma, Julia! What a great gift from your daughters.

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    2. Hi Karen, yes mushrooms are great. I do like to avoid white buttons, they have very little taste. We have a whole mushroom grower locally. Once in a while, I'll order 3#. After cooking them the usual way, I'll sauté an onion in butter and oil. Then add chopped mushrooms and cook very slowly till they give up their water and are very soft. Final step is into my Cuisinart to chop. Then I have lovely seasonings to add to risotto, soups etc.

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    3. We have several mushroom growers around here, and I have two kinds of dried mushrooms in the pantry right now.

      Luckily, I also have over a gallon of homemade turkey stock, which would be super in this, I think.

      Do you have a good recipe for mushroom soup?

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  9. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOKLAhoma, where the wind comes sweepin" down the plain ...

    I know all the words to every single song. It's my most favorite musical ever, first saw it when I was maybe 9-10. Ridge Bond, who played Curly in the road company, served with my dad in the South Pacific. He said that when the war was over, he wanted to go on Broadway. And so he did, more or less.

    The risotto sounds great and so easy. Fennel is a staple in our house, sorta like potatoes and onions, but I've never made risotto because I couldn't face standing in front of the stove stirring for half an hour. This is a recipe I can get behind. Are you familiar with Better than Bouillon? It's a great substitute for canned stock and comes in chicken, vegetable, beef, ham and probably other flavors. Another staple.

    All I need is a leek and I'm in business! Thank you. And thank Celia.

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    1. Thanks Ann, delighted that you all love fennel. The first time I came across fennel was with my family in Rome. I was 15. We were out at dinner, and my father had a course of fennel and cheese to end the meal.
      I hear you on risotto stirring. I do make it that way still sometimes. But with everyone's busy lives, which doesn't seem to end with retirement, this way works perfectly.

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  10. Thanks for the recipe, Celia & Julia -- I love risotto. I like to mix in pieces of sauteed shrimp and asparagus and mushroom. I'm not a huge fennel fan... it's that licorice thing, though I love licorice. Love leeks.

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    1. Julia has told me you're a great cook, Hallie, so thank you. We're opposites; I don't like licorice, but love cooked fennel. Also love, and use, shrimp etc.

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  11. I’m pretty sure I used to dance around the living room to my parents’ record of the Oklahoma soundtrack. Enjoy the performance, Julia.

    I’ve never tried risotto, but maybe I should. This recipe sounds doable. Thank you.

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  12. I love Risotto and it’s my go-to recipe for non meat esters. I remember going to an English pub with my daughter who was a voice major, studying opera. Open mike sing along. She chose Oklahoma and burst out Oooooklahoma! and all the glasses in the pub rattled!

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    1. Wish I'd been there to hear her, sounds wonderful.

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  13. Must save this recipe. I love risotto but hate all the stirring and stirring and stirring.

    Also, I'm sooo jealous! I love Oklahoma!!!

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    1. I'm delighted to have offered a solution to the too much stirring issue.

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  14. Julia, what a great gift! Enjoy!

    I love risotto and this recipe sounds wonderful. Thanks, Celia.

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  15. Grandma was from Oklahoma so when original movie hit TV, Dad, who controlled evening TV viewing, insisted we had to watch it. My sister's last year in high school had Oklahoma for the spring production. Have fun in the big city, Julia.

    Celia - this looks so nice and completely doable for a nice winter weekend, which is the only time I do long cooking. One question: is the pot of cooking risotto put in the oven covered or uncovered? I think it's uncovered but I want to be sure. Yummy. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Deana, thank you for the question. Yes, as Julia said, I did make this while she and youngest helped, talked, did cocktail etc as it was New Years Day which had turned out to have far more activity than I planned. I cooked it uncovered in the oven. I think the secret is to cover if you can't check it. In that situation I would pour most of the stock in before going to the oven. Uncovered, I like to check every 10-15 or so minutes. Then stirring to make sure it's not drying out.

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  17. Yum! Your risotto recipe sounds so good that I want to try it on this chilly day. It's freezing here in California, which definitely means it is wintertime.

    Diana

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  18. Julia, enjoy Oklahoma, and tell us all about it! Now I'm going to be singing all day!

    And Celia, thanks for the brilliant risotto recipe. I love it but do hate the stirring, so I will try this. Maybe subbing asparagus for the fennel, as hubby is not a big fennel fan.
    It also reminded me that I've had my Instant Pot for a year, and have yet to try to risotto in it, so will add that to my list of things to cook soon!

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  19. Have fun at the show, Julia! (Jealous)!

    Celia, thank you so much for this delish dish. It's been chilly in the desert and I\ look forward to busting this one out!

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  20. Like Gigi, I can’t eat onion but I can enjoy the recipe vicariously!

    I see i’m not alone in singing Ooooklahoma all morning! Enjoy the show, Julia.

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  21. Hope you're having lots of fun today, Julia! Thanks, Celia, for another yummy recipe.

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  22. Shalom Reds and fans. I cook and eat as a bachelor most often does. I can follow a recipe and I sort of can figure out how to make the dishes come together at about the same time. But I seldom cook like that. I do however collect recipes. I am not sure why. I subscribe to New York Times Cooking and I have saved a large number of recipes and now and then I sometimes look to them for guidance and advice. But not too often. This year, they helped me to cook a turkey two days after Thanksgiving. I can’t even remember if I have ever eaten fennel.

    More than cooking for company, I have been to the theater. I think one of my first shows was Oklahoma at the Westbury Theater on Long Island. I might have been 9 or 10. It was theater in the round. I don’t think I could follow the storyline. But I loved the music. In my family, we can all sing the songs of the Great American Songbook on demand. I remember at a Bar Mitzvah when we were all together, I asked my then 8-year-old nephew to complete the line… “In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire.” And without missing a beat, he replied “Hurricanes hardly happen.” Enjoy Julia.

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  23. What a nice present! That's what I want next year! ❤️

    I've always wanted to master risotto. This looks so yummy.

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