Thursday, April 30, 2009

Noticable Impression

I have begun compiling a list of feats that seem almost guaranteed to impress people. Here is what I have so far:

1. Taking up the flying trapeze
2. Changing from a Republican Senator to a Democratic Senator
3. Escaping from Somali pirates
4. Making risotto

Unfortunately, I can only give you step-by-step guidance on #4, although #2 seems fairly self-explanatory.

This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite recent cookbook acquisitions, The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper. I included some handy tricks from my recent cooking class, too.

Pesto Risotto

by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
    For the Pesto
    • 1-2 large or 2-3 small garlic cloves
    • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
    • 2/3 c. tightly-packed fresh young basil leaves
    • 2 heaping teaspoons of pine nuts, lightly toasted
    • 1/4 c. freshly grated Romano cheese
    • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
    • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
    For the Risotto
    • 3 Tbs. butter
    • 1 medium onion, minced
    • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1 large garlic clove, minced
    • 1 heaping c. Italian Arborio rice
    • 1/4 c. dry white wine
    • 3 1/2-4 c. chicken stock*, heated on the stove until warm


    To make the pesto:
    Start by pureeing the garlic and salt. You can use a food processor from the beginning, but I like to do this part in a mortar and pestle and then transfer the mush to the food processor. Gradually add the basil and then the pine nuts. Add the cheeses and the oil, and process everything to a rough, yummy paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. At this point you can use it for anything (pasta, bread spread, egg topper), or set it aside for your risotto.

    To make the Risotto:
    In a heavy skillet, heat the butter over medium heat, adding the onions with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Saute until the onions are soft and clear, about 3 minutes. Blend in the garlic and the rice, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring often.

    Raise the heat to medium high. Stir in the wine, and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Begin adding the broth, 1 cup at a time, simmering and stirring each addition until the liquid is absorbed by the rice before adding the next cup. After cooking in about 2 1/2 cups, add the broth in 1/2 c. increments, and begin tasting the risotto.

    You will know it is ready when the rice is close to tender, with a little more firmness to the bite than you would like, and it should be nearly soupy. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 3 minutes. It will finish cooking and absorb a little more liquid as it rests.

    * You can use vegetable broth instead, if you want to make this vegetarian.

    1. Never cover the pot.
    2. The broth needs to be warm when you add it.
    3. The total cooking time once you start adding broth should be about 15 minutes.

    After the sitting part, fold in the pesto. Sprinkle with pine nuts if you like, and serve to your awestruck guests.

    Got any more stunts to add to my list?


    1. Oh this is yummy, totally 100% tasty! I think it even tastes better when you make it and I eat it... :-). P.S. Stew baking as I type! Thanks for the comfort food!

    2. Let me know what you think! Good for a rainy night in Detroit, I hope!

    3. You could give step by step guidance on number one too -- there's a trapeze class waiting, with your name on it.

    4. I'm content to just be impressed while you do it!