Sunday, October 17, 2010

For the Love of Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorite things to make. It makes a wonderful side dish paired with any good piece of meat and in special circumstances, the risotto can be found a dish all its own. Although it is not the fastest dish to whip up in the kitchen, the love you put into it is worth every bite when you sit down to devour your creation. After all, as my family always says, the risotto needs to be loved into existence. I have fallen in love with every bite of risotto that has ever made its way into my mouth but after all is said and done, lemon risotto is the one that makes me smile the most. It's a favorite in my family kitchen and I am happy to say that my first attempt at making it for the Mr. was a success! The recipe is posted below as best as I can remember. I have been watching my dad make this for years but much like most of my favorite family recipes, there is no recipe to follow. Just a pinch of this, a dash of that and a whole lot of love. That's how we do it.

Lemon Risotto

1 cup Arborio rice
3 medium shallots, minced
Olive oil- 1.5 swirls of the pan
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
Juice of 1-2 lemons, depending on how much of a citrus flavor you want
Lemon zest, about two tablespoons

Mince the shallots and saute them in a shallow sauce pan until they are tender. Add the rice, stirring constantly, for about 1-2 minutes or until the rice starts to brown. This is when the babysitting starts. Add the first cup of warm chicken broth. The rice absorbs the broth and this is how it cooks. The slower the broth is added, the slower the starches of the rice are released resulting in a creamier risotto which is always best. As the broth absorbs, continue to add until the rice is fully cooked and the creaminess is everything your risotto loving heart has dreamed of. At the end, stir in the lemon juice and zest.

And to top it all off, since we had enough for our entire neighborhood, I found a creative way to use the leftovers! As much as I love risotto, the leftovers are never as good as the first night it is cooked. We had too much left over to waste, so I racked my brain for a good kitchen idea. One of my favorite restaurants in Charlotte serves Risotto cakes on their menu as an appetizer and this was the inspiration for our two day old dish. When the risotto is chilled, the creaminess disappears and what is left is a sticky rice mixture that holds its shape very well. I scooped up the risotto in a heaping spoon and formed patties about the size of my palm. In a lightly oiled non-stick pan, I cooked up the little cakes until each side was nice and crispy. They were the perfect accompaniment to our seared tuna medallions!

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