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The Perfect Risotto Recipe for Anniversaries and Apologies

The Perfect Risotto Recipe for Anniversaries and Apologies

It’s a commonly-held belief that everyone should have at least one spectacular recipe down pat so they can demonstrate their culinary prowess at a moment’s notice. Though it’s actually best to have at least ten of these memorized, having the know-how to create one gorgeous dish is absolutely imperative, and might actually be the magic key to getting you out of trouble one day.

Do take note that when I mention the creation of a dish, I’m not talking about warming up something frozen that you’ve bought at the grocery store—that’s not cooking, it’s a travesty waiting to happen. This is a meal that you create from scratch, so if you don’t yet know the difference between chopping and mincing, and think that deglazing is something you only do to windows, it’s best to do a bit of research on the basics first. Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds: chopping = cutting something fairly small; mincing = really tiny. That’s it. Oh, and use the sharp end of your knife to do all of this.

Risotto

Chopped Onion and Celery

    That really is a gorgeous word, isn’t it? Roll it off your tongue a couple of times and you’ll see what I mean. It’s an Italian dish made with Arborio rice, which gets fabulously starchy as it cooks so the dish ends up rich and creamy. There are countless variations on flavour profiles that you can create, but this is a basic recipe you can use and build upon as you see fit.

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    What you’ll need:

    6-8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I like to use onion)
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 tbsp butter or margarine
    1 large onion, finely chopped
    1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
    1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
    1.5 cups Arborio rice
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    sea salt black pepper
    2 tbsp minced chives
    1 extra tsp of butter or margarine 1/2 cup grated cheese, such as Parmigiano Reggiano 

    Step 1: Heat the Stock

    In a medium-sized pot heat up the stock so that it comes to a light boil, and then turn the heat down to low to keep it hot, but not bubbling.

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    Stirring

      In a separate pot (or large, deep skillet—even a wok will do), heat the olive oil and butter on medium-high heat. When it starts to sizzle, add in the onions, garlic, and celery, and then turn the heat down to medium. You should be able to sautee them at this temperature for a good 10 minutes without them going brown.

      One the vegetables have softened and the onions are translucent, it’s time to add the rice.

      Step 2: Rice 

      Once you’ve added the rice, turn the heat back up to high and stir it around immediately so that it gets a nice, even coating of fat all over it. Keep stirring it constantly, and after a minute or so you’ll notice that it starts to look a bit translucent. This is when you get to deglaze the pan so you lift all the delectable bits that the cooking vegetables have released, and the rice will get to suck the wine up into every single grain.

      *Note: make sure that you never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t serve at your table. The quality of the dish will be far better with a good wine, and you’ll get to sample it liberally as you cook.

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      Step 3: Add the Stock

      When the rice has absorbed the wine, add a ladle of hot stock to the pan along with a pinch of sea salt, and turn the heat down to medium: you want the rice to simmer, but not burn. After that ladle-ful has been absorbed, add another one, constantly stirring that rice with your wooden spoon so you coax the starch out of the grains as they cook. This will take approximately 20 minutes or so, at which point you should taste the rice to see if it’s cooked. The grains should be mostly soft, but very slightly

      al dente, meaning that they’ll be tender, but still offer a bit of resistance when bitten into.Adding Stock

        This is your opportunity to season the dish: does it need more salt? How about some cracked pepper? Stir these in as needed, and then remove the pan from the stove.

        Step 4: Final Adjustments

        It’s in this final step that you get to make the risotto your own. If you want to keep things simple, then just add in that extra dollop of butter or margarine, stir it around, and then let it sit for a couple of minutes so it gets creamy beyond measure. You can add in grated Parmigiano Reggiano, Asiago, or Romano cheese at this stage as well, and then garnish it with chives before serving.

        If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you could do a bit of prep work before starting the risotto so you can add extras to it, such as sauteed mushrooms or other vegetables. Some great ideas/combinations to try are:

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        – Mixed fried mushrooms – Broccoli and lemon (you’d add a tbsp of lemon juice during the final step)
        – Asparagus tips – Spinach and feta (omit the parmesan)
        – Sundried tomato and basil

        Risotto

          Mushrooms, broccoli, and asparagus need to be cooked before being added, while spinach and basil can just be chopped or shredded and added in raw in the final step: the heat from the rice will cook them lightly for you. Be sure to serve this with a glass of that wine you cooked with, and consider accompanying the dish with a light salad to cut the richness of it—a light salad of arugula/mixed greens with a lemon vinaigrette would do nicely.

          There you have it! Risotto might be a bit labour-intensive, but it really is worth the effort: once you and your companion take that first bite, you’ll see what I mean.

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          Last Updated on March 13, 2019

          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

          Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

          You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

          Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

          1. Work on the small tasks.

          When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

          Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

          2. Take a break from your work desk.

          Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

          Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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          3. Upgrade yourself

          Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

          The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

          4. Talk to a friend.

          Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

          Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

          5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

          If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

          Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

          Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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          6. Paint a vision to work towards.

          If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

          Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

          Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

          7. Read a book (or blog).

          The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

          Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

          Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

          8. Have a quick nap.

          If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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          9. Remember why you are doing this.

          Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

          What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

          10. Find some competition.

          Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

          Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

          11. Go exercise.

          Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

          Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

          As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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          Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

          12. Take a good break.

          Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

          Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

          Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

          Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

          More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

          Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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