I have made risotto often in the past. It's a beautiful, comforting supper. A few months ago I quoted Nigel Slater talking about how calming it is to cook a risotto, stirring while it bubbles away on the stove.
The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf. Making the chicken stock was part of the challenge as well, which I think is the perfect thing to have going in the slow cooker on the weekend.
Butternut Squash and Celery Risotto
2 T olive oil
2 stalks (about 100 g) celery, finely chopped
1 c (100 g) arborio rice
2 T white wine
500 ml to 750 ml chicken (or vegetable) stock, hot
1 1/2 c (100 g) grated butternut squash
1/3 c (50 g) grated parmesan cheese
Heat the oil in a large pan and then gently saute the celery until tender, about 8 minutes.
Add the rice and stir to coat all the grains.
Add the wine and stir until it is nearly absorbed.
Have the stock in a pot, keeping hot. Add a couple of ladles of stock to the risotto and stir from time to time. When the stock is nearly absorbed, add another couple of ladles.
Continue to add hot stock, stirring. After about three additions, add the grated squash.
Continue adding stock a couple of ladlefuls at a time. Taste the rice occasionally. Aim for the rice to be soft on the outside and have a slight bite on the inside.
Add the parmesan cheese and stir. Season well with sea salt and pepper. Then remove the risotto from the heat and cover. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
I learned two valuable things about risotto by using the Daring Cooks recipe. First, risotto can take less stirring than I am used to. In the past, the recipes I have used said, "stirring constantly," which I now see is not really necessary. This really takes the pressure off and turns risotto-making into the relaxing task Nigel described.
Secondly, risotto is a delicious base which can take any number of flavours. It's a great way to eat any number of vegetables. In this risotto I used one of my favourite "sneaking veg in" tricks: grating it makes it seem like a garnish, when actually there is a fair amount of veg there.