There is a lot of fear and hype surrounding risotto, considering it's basically just a bunch of rice. I often think of a line from Julian Barnes in his book Pedant in the Kitchen: "As any domestic cook who's ever made one knows, it's virtually impossible to do anything in the final 20 minutes or so except stir, add liquid, worry; stir, add liquid, worry..." Most of these risotto fears, though, are unfounded. If you let it cook slowly and add the liquid little by little, the results are usually good and sometimes sublime.
Still, I was tempted enough by this recipe's technique, from this month's Everyday Food, to try it: rather than trying to slowly coax out the starch from the rice, the liquid is added all at once, then the pot is covered and slipped into a hot oven. The radiant heat from all sides dramatically speeds up the cooking process (it was done in about 20 minutes), and allows you to do a little less worrying and little more setting the table.
It was certainly tasty—and possibly worth the saved sanity—but it was more like rice with vegetables than that magnificent creaminess. It lost a little elegance. Next time I'd use the exact same ingredients and spend the extra time to get it right.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups arborio or risotto rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into medium dice, about 4 cups
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves cut into 1/2-inch thick strips
- salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium until shimmering. Add shallots and cook until soft, about 3 minutes, the add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the rice and stir well to coat in the oil. Toast until opaque, about 3 minutes, then add the wine and allow it to absorb into the rice.
Add the squash, broth, and kale, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, and transfer to the oven. Bake until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan.