Saturday, May 21, 2011

Green Pea and Saffron Risotto

Risotto is one of my "feelin' fancy" comfort dishes. The end result can be elegant or homey, and the process of making it is fairly involved, what with the constant attention and stirring. It's nice too, because it's so simple to make for one person. It's better that way too, because I've found that risotto, like fettucini alfredo, does not reheat well. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's still edible, and delicious, but the I think that the texture is drastically different.

Risotto is also a classic example of how quality ingredients can make all the difference in the world. Sure, you can whip together a cheesy-rice concoction of long-grain rice finished with parm-from-a-green-can, and while it would have the starchy comfort of rice and the umami-ness of the powdered parm, it won't have the same creaminess. The first real risotto I had was damn-near transcendent, and I've loved them ever since.

Green Pea and Saffron Risotto

  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup rice - Arborio, Vialone Nano or Carnaroli (see Notes)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • pinch of saffron
  • 2 cups chicken broth, simmering over low heat
  • 1/4 cup green peas, cooked
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano plus more for garnish
  • salt and pepper (optional)

  1. Heat the chicken broth in a pot and keep at a low simmer.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until the onion is soft.
  3. Add the rice and stir to coat well. Cook the rice for about 2 minutes, then add the saffron and the wine. Stir well , and once the wine has been absorbed by the rice, start adding the chicken broth 1 ladleful at a time, adding more as the liquid is absorbed and stirring well the whole time.
  4. Continue until the rice is al dente, firm, but not chalky when you bite into it. You want there to be some creaminess and looseness to it. There will still be liquid, but it will be thick and creamy from the starch released by the rice.
  5. Add the peas and 1/3 cup of the parmigiano reggiano and stir well. Taste for seasoning, you can add salt and pepper, but I usualy don't with this dish.
  6. Serve garnished with a bit more parmigiano reggiano.

  • I used to use only Arborio rice for my risottos until I was turned on to the Vialone Nano and Carnaroli varieties. Just as Arborio is heads and shouders above regular long or medium-grain rices for risotto-making, so are Vialone Nano and Carnaroli far above Arborio.

    I totally recommend using Arborio when you're just starting out making risottos. Once you make the switch though, you'll notice how different the rices are. Carnaroli stays the firmest of the 3, yet it still yields the creaminess that makes a risotto a risotto. Vialone Nano seems to absorb liquid faster than the other 2.

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