I suppose I can't kvetch about M's lack of postings when I haven't been doing much myself. Well, actually, I have been doing a lot of posting, but over at my own blog, talking about World Cup soccer and Virginia politics. Needless to say, I have a readership of about two.
Anyhoo. My summer schedule (easy work schedule, busy evenings, and travel nearly every weekend) has kept me out of the kitchen to a certain extent, but not entirely. Two nights ago, I decided to experiment with a wonder substance I'd never used before - arborio rice, the base of risotto. Given that I like things a little spicy, I decided to go all Southwest style with it.
Start with an oiled cookie sheet. On said sheet, place the following - one large tomato, quartered; half a red onion, cut into thirds; one each of red bell, green bell, poblano, and red chili peppers, halfed and seeded; two ears of corn; four cloves of garlic. Put a touch of olive oil on all of these, as well as some salt and pepper. Place under your broiler for about 12-15 minutes, taking care to turn everything as appropriate to ensure even burning. Peel the peppers and tomatoes (M taught you how), cut the corn off the cobs, and throw everything into your food processor. Work these in the processor until you have a nice, smooth sauce.
Meanwhile, melt three tablespoons of butter with two tbsp of canola oil in a pan, letting it get a little brown, and warm four cups of chicken broth. (Warm, don't boil.) Add two cups of arborio to the butter, and toss around to get it evenly coated in the warm fatty goodness. Why?
-----Alton Brown appears out of nowhere-----
What we are doing is creating an agent that will thicken the sauce as the arborio cooks and create the creamy, gravy-like texture we want. That agent? A hidden roux. Any roux consists of two things - fats, and the starches they coat and dissolve. Here, the butter and oil will bind with the thin layer of starch which coats the outside of the arborio grains to create our roux. Why hidden? Because instead of being a puddle in a pan, the roux will be coated to the rice, which will simply look like it's browned a bit.
-----Alton leaves after tasting the roasted veggie sauce and approving-----
After tossing the arborio in the pan for a minute, add a cup or so of cool broth and stir madly over medium heat. Why cool? Because there needs to be a temperature difference between the roux and the liquid. Why stir? Because once the roux dissolves, we do want that liquid to heat up to, you know, cook the rice. :) Once the arborio has absorbed most of that liquid, add a cup or two of the warmed broth. Lather, rinse, repeat until the arborio, now risotto, has soaked up all of the broth in batches. This will take around 20-25 minutes.
Now to spice it up. First, stir in 1 tbsp of arbol chili powder. If you don't have any around, you can use 1 tsp of cayenne, but I like arbol here - a little more flavorful, a little better record against the Yankees. Next, add in the roasted veggie sauce and stir well. Delicious!
This was DELICIOUS the night of, with the right amount of spice, a good texture and a bright vegetable flavor. There are some things I would change, though:
1) Meat is good. I didn't have any chicken around at the time, but on redo, I would saute chicken in the oil, then use the pan drippings as the base for the hidden roux.
2) I was braindead when making this, and didn't use a cup of cold broth first. (Actually, it was because I realized the roux thing later.) So...yeah, do that, or it won't thicken properly.
3) Finally, about a cup of chopped parsley for color and flavor at the end would have been nice.
So why mixed results? Because this recipe makes an entire pan of risotto, meaning lots of leftovers for a one-man show. And risotto doesn't reheat particularly well. Still tastes good, but the texture is off. So, I would recommend halfing the recipe if you are making it for a small dinner (2-3 people), and don't count on leftovers. Unless someone has some insight as to a better way to reheat the stuff.