Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Indiana Poodle and the Risotto of Doom
Even though I've been off the road for a couple of weeks, I've not been really inspired to cook like I had planned. It's a bitch to cook for 1, you tend to eat more if you cook more, or at least I do, and there's just only so many leftovers I can eat. Sometimes, I do remember to freeze things, but for some strange reason, it never crosses my mind until after I've eaten something for 3 days in a row.
Whine, whine, whine...so when I saw this recipe on SlashFood, I thought it sounded pretty good and it was designed for 1. So, I promptly decided to double it, so I would have leftovers. Yeah, so not the sharpest knife in the block, am I?
But, it really shouldn't be a big deal to double this recipe--it's rice-based, so you need to remember that cooking rice is ratio-based: 2 parts liquid to 1 part rice, and just make sure the liquid is doubled as well.
Red Wine Risotto
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb. ground beef
3/4 cup arborio rice
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef broth
Grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil and butter in a small or medium sauce pan over medium heat. Saute the garlic and onion until translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add in the ground beef and cook until browned. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the arborio rice to coat it with the beef, garlic and onion mixture. Add 1/2 cup wine, stirring until the wine absorbs, about 1 minute.
Stir in 1/4 cup beef broth, allowing the rice to absorb it. Add the remaining wine and broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring regularly and allowing each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until the risotto is tender, about 20 minutes. The risotto should be creamy but still have some visible liquid.
Remove from the heat and serve immediately, topped with grated Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.
The recipe above is the original recipe. I encourage you to click on the link in the earlier part of this post, so you can read the description of the dish, especially keeping this part in mind: "When cooking for one, it's calming, even therapeutic after a long day of work, to stand over the stove and stir."
Standing over a hot stove, stirring yourself into a repetitive motion shoulder injury is not my idea of ending a long and stressful day. This is what I get for not actually reading for comprehension when looking at the post...and then being dumb enough to double the recipe, because even though I followed the rules about the liquid to rice ratio, what did I not take into account? Oh, how about that it might take twice as long to make the damn dish!
Some days, it's a wonder I can dress myself, much less make food. Never again will I say anything snarky about the cheftestants on Top Chef when they make something and screw up their estimate of how long it will take to complete the dish. (Except for ice cream during the Quickfire Challenge...People! Have you not watch any previous seasons of Top Chef? The entire planet knows by now that the ice cream maker IS NOT YOUR FRIEND, and that the judges totally see through the whole "it failed as ice cream, so I'll make it a sabayon and no one will ever know the difference." They've all seen the other seasons of Top Chef--heck, they were there!)
So, I saute the onions and garlic and add the ground beef. While the beef is cooking, I get my wine and beef broth together and measure out my rice. I sauteed the rice for a few minutes, getting it coated with the beef and onions and add the first half cup of wine. After the wine is absorbed, I add some beef stock, and continue this for the next 45 freaking minutes. The rice was like a sponge, soaking up more and more liquid, but never getting soft. 1 quart of beef stock and 3/4 of a bottle of wine later, it finally becomes something that vaguely resembles risotto. (I am seriously considering buying a case of this arborio rice and using it to soak up the excess water in my yard from the monsoons we've been having for the last couple of months. Seriously.)
(Note that screaming at the rice to "cook, bitch, COOOOK!!" at the 40-minute mark, does not actually make it cook any faster, but it makes you feel better...until you realize you are yelling at rice.)
I felt that the original dish was underseasoned with the directions to just add salt and pepper, so along with a generous helping of salt, I added a lot of freshly ground black pepper. I used the Italian Spice Grinder of Doom to add a little flair (and taste!), and I adjusted the seasoning several times during the absorption process.
As I scooped out the risotto into a bowl for dinner, it dawned on me that this was the exactly (minus the wine of course) like one of the first things that I ever cooked for myself, when I was about 11. I would saute onions, mushrooms, and ground beef and add it to a couple of scoops of cooked Minute Rice...grand total cooking time was probably about 25 minutes, and the longest part was waiting for the water to boil so I could dump in the Minute Rice.
However, I must say, even thought it was more time-consuming than I had originally thought, this dish was pretty darn good comfort food, and a little more sophisticated than my 11-year old self's "original" creation...plus, I got to drink the leftover wine. Not exactly something I could do when I was 11 without some sort of incredible downward spiral that had me living under bridge and/or writing a best-selling autobiography.)
And, I'm really looking forward to the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.