Tuesday, October 27, 2009
My sweet neighbor Jen had the Wisdom Tooth Extraction from Hell a few days ago. Jen is one tough cookie, so when the dentist offered to prescribe Vicodin to kill the pain, she said, "Oh, I'm sure Advil will be enough."
Foolish, Foolish, Naive Jen. I am unsure why she is friends with me, because if ANY person offered to prescribe me Vicodin, for any reason, I'd be running out the door with my pills immediately. Me loves da Vicodin!
Two days later, I called her (and yes, I took two days to call her after her ordeal...again, why is she friends with me?) to see how she was faring. Poor Jen was crying. Literally.
She'd been in unbearable pain and unable to eat anything but soup for two days. After assuring her that VICODIN IS YOUR FRIEND, I got to work whipping up something other than soup for her to gum down. Soup for two days straight is just depressing. I'd cry too, if I had to eat just soup for two days.
I decided that someone that miserable deserves risotto. Problem is, I'd never made it before. Risotto is higher maintenance than Anna Wintour; you have to stir it constantly and decide when is the exact time to add ladles of hot broth and babysit the damn thing for half an hour. I don't do high maintenance.
But Jen cried. This was serious business. She deserved risotto.
I pored over a few cookbooks but I didn't find the perfect recipe. Because I needed to apply Risotto Therapy immediately and so a trip to the grocery store wasn't in the cards.
I did, shockingly, have Arborio rice in my pantry, because I've been *meaning* to try my hand at risotto for a while now. And luckily, I had a few boxes of chicken broth hanging around (fallout from Bean Week).
A quick rummage through the refrigerator yeilded a shallot, red and orange bell pepper, a few mushrooms, 2 cups of spinach, parmesan cheese and 4 slices of Applewood Smoked bacon.
And of course, we ALWAYS have wine in this house.
Viola! Risotto Therapy to the rescue.
4 slices Applewood Smoked bacon, chopped
1 shallot, diced
1/2 cup each red and orange bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
1 cup dry white wine
7-8 (about) cups of chicken stock, heated to boil and then kept on simmer (you may have some left over)
1/3 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cups fresh spinach
1 tablespoon butter
2/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Heat chicken stock in a large pot; keep at a simmer. In a large pot, on medium heat, cook the bacon until brown but not crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the shallot, peppers and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes more. If necessary, add a glug of olive oil (a tablespoon or so) and add the rice; stir and cook until the rice becomes translucent, about 2 minutes.
Add wine and cook, stirring, until it is almost completely absorbed. Add one cup simmering stock. Keep cooking and stirring until liquid is almost absorbed--at that point, you will start adding stock by ladlefuls (about 1/2 cup) at a time, stirring until it's almost absorbed and then adding stock again. Stir constantly!**
Cook for about 15 minutes or until rice is nearly al dente. Add mushrooms and spinach and cook for about 3-6 minutes more until rice is al dente (you can add more stock after the mushrooms and spinach are added).
Remove from heat, add butter and parmesan, and cover. Let sit a couple of minutes, then stir, adjust for seasoning, and serve in bowls.
**And yeah, the method sounds scary at first, but it wasn't that hard...if I can do it, you can.
I cooked this batch a little South of al dente because poor Jen couldn't chew. Still, it was warm and a welcome change from soup.
And thank goodness the girl came to her senses; the Vicodin Fairy came and she feels much better!