Today a lesson in food history. The invention of the spoon predates comfort food. No chicken/egg dilemma here. Think about it – cereal with milk, mashed potatoes and gravy, chicken soup, Ben & Jerry's from the pint, the scrapings from mac & cheese, peanut butter from the jar, lemon curd (trust me!). They would be nothing without the spoon. The spoon came first.
This is the over-long preface to the inclusion of risotto in the comfort food category. Plus it's super simple to make. Arborio rice inhales liquid and flavors. And if you're frugal, it's a great way to use up bits and pieces. Feel free to add leftover meats or asparagus. Risotto, a little wine, a crackling fire…the only thing missing is the spoon 🙂
A handful of chopped pancetta or 3 slices bacon or 1 tablespoon olive oil (vegetarian)
A medium onion, chopped or 2 shallots
2 garlic cloves, chopped
At least 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced or chopped – feel free to rehydrate dried mushrooms too! Add the strained liquid to the pot.
A mug of frozen peas defrosted in microwave 2 minutes
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
At least 4 cups chicken or veg stock (vegetarian)
1 tablespoon butter
a handful of grated Italian cheese like Parmesan
Render the fat out of the pancetta in a tall sided, heavy bottom pot, medium heat or lower. Meanwhile heat broth to a simmer and keep it there-it will absorb in the rice better. After about 10-15 minutes, take out the meat, leaving the fatty deliciousness. Add the onion and a sprinkle of salt. Cook for 5 or until soft. Add the garlic, cooking 1-2 minutes. Raise the heat. Throw in the mushrooms, cooking until the liquid is gone. Add the rice, tossing with the fat and veg in the pan. Now cook in the wine until it's mostly evaporated.
Add stock by the ladle, waiting until each ladle is absorbed to add more. and give it a stir every few minutes. When rice is just about cooked thru but still firm, add peas. Heat and turn off flame. Add butter, cheese, salt & pepper to taste. It takes about 20 minutes once the rice goes in, keeping the bubbles at a steady clip but under control.
Serve with extra cheese and/or a sprinkle of fresh herbs. Make sure they (your family) appreciate you for your excursion into classic Italian comfort food.
Buon Appetito – B