Thursday, January 11, 2007

Recipe: Arugula Risotto

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to cook. I've been lazy about writing down recipes, because I never follow them. I just throw stuff together that I know works well, and rely on my Italian heritage and lots of practice to make it taste good. But now I've reached the point where I can't remember all of the recipe's that I've learned. So I've decided to start posting them.

Keep in mind that I approximate EVERYTHING. So if you're the type of person who follows recipe's to the letter, this is not the blog for you. If something doesn't taste quite right, play around with the ingredients until it does or email me for advice. So, without further adu, I present:

Arugula Risotto

Arugula Risotto

Discovered and thrown together to the best of my ability after reading this article, I stole this from idea from Cafe Panache. It's a really great restaurant by the way, and their rendition of this is better then mine. So stop by if you're in the area.

Serves: 2 (easily doubles or triples to serve more)

Prep time: 30-45 minutes


3 cups of chicken stock
1 cup of arborio rice
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 large portobello mushroom
1 small bunch of arugula
1/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese
salt and pepper


Dice your onion. Clean the arugula and mushroom. Tear off the arugula leaves and throw away the stems (or save them for another dish). Chop the mushroom into relatively large pieces. Clean and mince the garlic. Grate the parmesan. Set everything aside. Trust me, you don't want to be doing this while minding your risotto pan.

Get two pots or pans.

If the first pan, put all three cups of your chicken stock and warm it under a low heat. If you're lazy, you can skip this step and just make sure the stock is room temperature. If you’re a vegetarian, you can use vegetable stock. Regardless, always use low sodium stock, as pre-salted/seasoned stock tends to ruin the flavor of risotto.

In your second pan, put in the oil and butter under a medium heat. When the butter is completely melted, add the onion. You can use any type of onion you want, though I prefer white. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring slowly but constantly.

Add the rice and the garlic to the oil and butter. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring slowly but constantly until the rice shimmers.

Add the wine to the rice. Again, stirring slowly but blah blah blah. If you don't enjoy stirring, this is not your dish. Once the wine is fully absorbed into rice, you can start ladling in the stock.

The traditional method is to add the stock half a cup at a time, stirring, waiting for it to be absorbed, tasting the rice, and then adding more if stock, plus salt and pepper as needed. But experience has taught me that you can pretty much just add 2 cups of stock, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat all the way until its just simmering and cover it. Come back and stir the rice every five minutes, and be absolutely sure to add more stock if it's dry but hasn’t finished cooking yet.

While the rice is cooking, bring your first pan, which should have a little chicken stock left in it, to a boil. Throw in your arugula leaves for a few seconds, then remove them and put them in a blender. If you didn't bother to warm your stock, you can just wilt it with some stock or water and then put it in the blender. If you want to get really complex, you can blanch them, i.e., put them in ice water immediately after boiling them to set the color and flavor. But I've found this to be unnecessary. Puree the arugula for about ten seconds, adding additional chicken stock from the pan if needed to blend properly. Set aside until the rice is done.

After about 15-20 minutes, the rice should be done or nearing completion. At this point, you should be checking the rice every couple of minutes for firmness. When your rice is tender (just a bit firmer then normal rice when it’s ready to eat), it’s done. Turn off the heat. Add the arugula slurry and the 1/3 cup grated parmesan. If you're fancy and can taste the difference, you can use fontina cheese instead of or in addition to the parmesan, but I find that its not necessary. Stir until you have a creamy sauce. Add a little more stock if it's too clumpy or dry, add more cheese if there's too much liquid. It's important to do this last, as doing so at any previous stage will basically kill the flavor and color of the arugula and screw up your cheese sauce.

While you're finishing up your rice, use your first pan to sauté your mushroom over a high heat with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. You might have a little stock left over, and if so just set it aside. Since its chopped up, the mushroom shouldn't take more then a few minutes. You can use any type of mushroom you like for this, though my favorite it portobello. If you're lazy, you can just throw it in your rice pot while its cooking, though this will require more stock (since mushrooms are like sponges) and will lead to a different texture mushroom. Alternatively (or in addition) you can sear some chicken, shrimp, scallops, or whatever.

Put the completed green Risotto into two large bowls or plates. Top with the mushrooms. Garnish with a few large strips of shaved parmesan and a little fresh pepper. If you're feeling really hoity toity, you can add a little white truffle oil to the sides.

Serve with the white wine that you opened in the beginning of the recipe. If you don’t want to open a bottle of wine, you can leave it out of the recipe and just use more stock.

Now, all of this seems really complex. But its actually quite simple. Simmer rice in stock. Add cheese. Put stuff on top.

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