4 min read

Stone Soup #6: Cartoonishly Easy Risotto

Vanilla Ice puns are valid

Stone Soup is an ongoing quarantine feature in which I come up with a recipe that uses the impossible thing in your cupboard, without making you go to the store or wasting any of your ingredients. Yesterday, we figured out how to make dessert from beans.

Katie says:

I have a two pound bag of dried pinto beans and a two pound bag of dried black beans. I have a pretty well-stocked fridge and pantry: chicken broth, canned tomatoes, Rotel, jasmine rice, botan calrose rice, tortillas, masa, all kinds of sauce packets and stuff. I always have plenty of garlic and onions. I usually have a good selection of red wines, a couple of whites and my homemade mead.

The beans are the lede in this email, but we’ve already done a couple of bean recipes in a short time, so I’m going to give Katie a different plan of attack. I want us to get into that rice. It’s easy to think of rice as the foundational starch of a meal, like bread or potatoes or a whole yellow cake. It’s good and important, but I usually think of it as something that supports the hero of the meal.

Or at least, I used to think that way. Until I found out how fucking easy it is to make risotto. Thirty minutes of cook time, tops, and you’ve got yourself a knockout meal that will satisfy your hunger on a bone-deep level. So set half an hour aside tonight, and let’s make some

Cartoonishly Easy Risotto

Step One: Prep. Constitute, open, or thaw chicken broth. Chop up an onion and a few cloves of garlic. Open a bottle of wine. It’s important to do these things ahead of time, because this recipe moves fast, and you don’t want to be caught unawares.

Prepare your bonus additions. The world’s your oyster — this recipe will support pretty much any ingredients you want to throw into it at the end. If you have dried mushrooms, soak them in broth or wine. If you have fresh mushrooms, break them down into quarters. If you have other vegetables, chop them up. If you have walnuts, chop them up. If you have cooked meat, break it into bite-sized pieces; if you have raw meat you want to add, cook it up. If you have greens, wash them. Shit, if you have soaked-and-cooked beans, they can get added to this recipe, too. Seriously. Go nuts.

Step Two: Rinse your rice. I’ll be honest with you. I never do this. I know I should, but I forget to do it. Still, I shouldn’t lead you astray just because I don’t have my shit together. Rinse your rice until the water runs clear.

Step Three: Allium-in-’em. That was an aluminium pun and I am ashamed of it. Throw some garlic and onions into a medium-large pot over medium heat with some oil and stir until they’re soft and fragrant. If you have fresh ginger, it can go here, too. Don’t add herbs or seasonings yet, though, it’s too early!

Step Four: Rice, rice, baby. That was a Vanilla Ice pun and I am not ashamed of it. Throw short-grain rice into the pot, one handful for each person you’re cooking for. The rest of the measurements in this recipe will assume that you threw in 3-5 handfuls of rice. Lots of people have told me that you should really only use arborio rice for this, but you know what? Those people aren’t the boss of us. I, like Katie, have a fuckton of Cal-rose in my kitchen, and that’s what I use when I make risotto. Stir the rice around in the pot to toast it — you’re watching for the moment when the edges of each grain start to get a little transparent.

Step Five: Shots Shots Shots. Add about a scant glass of white wine to the pot. A good way to measure this is to pour yourself a glass of white wine, drink a couple of sips of it, and then dump it into the pot. Stir stir stir, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot, until the wine is pretty much gone. This is going to be a recurring theme — stir until the liquid is pretty much gone — so get used to it.

Step Five: Broth. Pour in about .75C chicken broth or stock. Stir until the liquid is almost gone. Repeat that — adding .75C liquid, then stirring until it’s gone — three times. By this point, the rice should be looking close to cooked.

Step Five: Ingredients. Here’s where you add seasonings. I like to use urfa biber or some other kind of crushed pepper, thyme, sage, onion powder, garlic powder, and a little mustard powder. You can also throw in mushrooms, vegetables, meat, beans, nuts, goat cheese, fresh herbs, fresh greens, tomatoes, olives — whatever your wild animal heart desires.

Step Six: More broth. At this point, I usually hit the risotto with 1-2 more rounds of broth and stirring. You’ll be able to see when the texture is right: the rice should be cooked but still distinguishable as individual grains, creamy and beautiful to behold. Your home should smell like victory.

That’s it. That’s literally it. You made risotto and now you get to eat it.

Just the recipe:

Cartoonishly Easy Risotto

  • Prepare chicken broth and white wine. Chop up an onion and some garlic. Prepare whatever meat/cheese/mushroom/vegetable/herb ingredients you feel like adding.
  • In a medium-large pot over medium heat, cook onions and garlic in oil or butter until they start to brown.
  • Add rice (one handful per person eating; the rest of these measurements assume you’re using 3-5 handfuls) and stir until it starts to get translucent at the edges.
  • Deglaze with a scant glass of white wine, scraping sides and bottom of the pot until most of the wine has been absorbed.
  • Add .75C chicken stock or broth. Stir until the liquid is almost gone. Repeat 3x.
  • Add whatever meat/cheese/mushroom/vegetable/herb ingredients you prepared. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, sage, onion powder, garlic powder, mustard powder, whatever else moves you.

Add .75C chicken stock or broth. Yes, again. Stir until the liquid is almost gone. Repeat if necessary. Your risotto is done when the rice is cooked and creamy-looking, but still distinguishable as individual grains.