Last night I went to another cooking place called The Learning Kitchen to take the risotto workshop. It was a really great class! Chef Jamie was very knowledgeable and very helpful. We started by making a basic risotto, and then divided it in half and made two different recipes. To the first one we added bacon, sautéed mushrooms, herbs, and a little parmesan. For the second recipe we added some roasted butternut squash and nutmeg. I also added just a small sprinkle of parmesan cheese to this as well because Chef Jamie said it would a nice nutty flavor to the dish. Plus, who doesn’t like a little cheese? It was just a little sprinkle, so you could leave this out if you want.
I really enjoy taking these classes. I get to learn new techniques, like how to chop an onion, how to properly hold a large knife, and why you should taste fresh herbs before putting them in a dish. In case you’re wondering, it’s so you know what you’re putting in your meal. That way you know that you’re putting parsley in instead of cilantro, which looks very much alike, but tastes very different! If you get a chance to take a cooking class, I highly recommend it. They are a lot of fun!
Making risotto isn’t as hard as it seems – it just takes some TLC. For a basic risotto, you start by adding some olive oil or butter to a pan over medium heat, add some diced onion, and cook until tender. You want to make sure not to give the onions any color, you just want them soft. Once the onions are done, add rice and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until the grain is translucent around the edges. Remember to make sure the rice and the onion do not brown. After the 3-5 minutes, turn the heat down to medium-low and add enough chicken stock to cover the top of the rice. Stir the mixture often, until the liquid is completely absorbed. Then add more chicken stock to cover the rice again, continuing to stir. After the third addition of liquid (about 20 minutes), the rice should be cooked through. Test the rice to make sure it is tender. Season the risotto with salt and pepper, and add a dab of butter to give it an extra creaminess. This is your basic risotto, and now you can begin adding whatever flavors you like.
For the bacon, mushroom, and herb risotto, add cooked, diced bacon, sautéed mushrooms, fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, or chives, a little parmesan cheese, and some lemon zest. You can dice the bacon and cook it in a skillet while the risotto is cooking. Once it is done, take the bacon out and cook the mushrooms in the same pan. When the mushrooms are finished, mix all the ingredients together, and combine with the risotto.
For the roasted butternut squash risotto, peel, dice, and roast some butternut squash in the oven with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil for about 20 minutes. The butternut squash should be diced fairly small. Once that is done, set it aside until risotto is finished. Mix the roasted squash with the finished risotto, and add some grated nutmeg. If you’d like you can also add a small amount of parmesan and stir to combine. Enjoy!!
Basic Risotto (serves 2)
- 3-4 cups chicken broth
- 2 tbsp, butter or olive oil
- 2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup arborio rice
- salt and pepper to taste
In a pot or saute pan over medium heat, melt butter or olive oil. Add the onion cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the grains are translucent around the edges. Be careful not allow the rice or onion brown. Reduce heat to low and add enough chicken stock just to cover the top of the rice. Stir often, until the liquid is completely absorbed into the rice. Once absorbed, add more liquid just to cover the rice and continue stirring. It should take approximately 20 minutes or three additions for all of the liquid to be absorbed and the rice cooked through. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon of butter for creaminess.
Bacon Mushroom and Herb:
- 1 slice of bacon, chopped, and cooked
- 1 oz mushrooms, sauteed and coursely chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme or chives
- 2 oz grated parmesan
- 1 tsp grates lemon zest
Mix ingredients together and add to finished risotto
- 1/2 cup butternut squash, cubed and roasted in the oven with salt, pepper, and olive oil
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of parmesan cheese
Mix roasted butternut squash, nutmeg and Parmesan with finished risotto