Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kitchen Lab turned Kitchen Success!


For quite some time I've been interested in attempting to cook risotto. Yes, that glorious, creamy rice dish. The issue has been time, as risotto requires 20 minutes of undivided attention. I finally decided to get down to learning and experimenting.

Now, let me explain how things generally work with new kitchen challenges. They are often failures, and take repeated efforts. Typically, I write down the things I am doing while I make them, that way I can blog everything I did without having to pull from memory later. But when "Kitchen Lab" is the name of the game, I don't usually write anything down on the first go, as the chance of success is so minimal. I figure I'll just report on the process.

But was an unexpected and delightful success. And I simply must share it.

Impossibly Vegan Creamy Winter Squash Risotto

Your FAVORITE winter squash, or whatever you have on hand
1 large onion, chopped
2 1/2 T Earth Balance or other butter substitute
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup arborio rice
Olive oil
1/3 cup dry white wine, ROOM TEMP
Black pepper
Garlic powder
Dried parsley

First, I cooked up my winter squash (I used delicata, as that was simply what I had on hand) in the microwave. I just cut it in half, and laid it face down upon a plate. I then microwaved it until it was soft to touch (about 5 minutes. May be more for your squash). The squash was carved out and food processed until smooth.
Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot I melted about 2 1/2 T of the Earth Balance, and then threw in the chopped onion to cook until translucent.
While my onions were cooking down, I divided my attention between them and preparing my vegetable broth. I have the cubes, so I mixed the appropriate amount in with my 3 cups of water and brought that to a simmer.
When the onions became translucent, I removed them from the pot using a slotted spoon, allowing the EB to drip back into the pot, before setting them aside in a bowl. With the onions cleared out, I was free to throw in my rice. As this point, I felt that their wasn't quite enough EB left at the bottom of the pot for this rice sautee, so I just drizzled a slight amount of olive oil on the top. This is when your constant attention will be needed up until the end. Stir the rice constantly, so it doesn't stick to the bottom, for about 6 or 7 minutes as the rice becomes a little translucent. Do NOT let it burn (I was on low-medium heat), as you don't want the outside of the rice to start flaking off. After this time elapsed, I poured in my room temperature white wine (IMPORTANT- Cold wine will shock the rice and crack the outside. NOOO!), and allowed it to evaporate. When it was mostly gone, I started to add the broth a ladle at a time.
This is when you start building that classic risotto creaminess. Allow the broth to cook down, but make sure to add the next ladle BEFORE the last is entirely evaporated. You never want the rice to dry out. Done appropriately, the rice should be al dante by the time you finish (or maybe just a bit on the soft side, depending on how you prefer it).
When the last ladle was added, I continued to cook the rice, but removed it from heat before all the broth was cooked away. At this point, it was looking nice and creamy. I added in my squash, which was about 3/4 cup, and stirred until all incorporated. I then added salt and pepper to my tastes, about 1/4-1/2 tsp or so granulated garlic, and a couple of sprinkles of the dried parsley. The results were FANTASMIC. I wanted to just eat it all right then, even though I had prepared the dish for my dinner tonight at work. At least now I have something to look forward to!

My shaman friend Uncle Walter even came to the kitchen to see what smelled so good.

I learned a lot about this dish by doing some research on the interblag. I googled risotto, and read through pages of suggestions. I'm generally not a fan of wikipedia, but I found the entry on risotto fascinating.

Coming up tomorrow, or maybe Saturday: What the HELL are the Oops! poverty corners?

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