Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Risotto Therapy

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.

Emergency Risotto
serves 4-6

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!


  1. I can't cook at all compared to you, but risotto I can do and do well, and I miss it terribly on this stupid low carb diet. I also hear vicodin - deeeelish.

  2. Kitch Witch to the rescue! She's lucky to have you for a neighbor... :D

  3. Ohh poor Jen! That is a very miserable feeling. You came to the rescue big time between the vicodin advice and risotto. Congratulations on conquering making it at home!

  4. I can't believe you had all of that stuff in your kitchen. It looks delicious! I love risotto.

    Speaking of soup and being low maintenance, I made blue potato and kale soup last week. Just a handful of cheap ingredients and voila! It was easy and delish. Aren't you proud? I think I'll make some for my vegetarian friends who just had a baby.

  5. You are a good friend to bring her Risotto...I Love risotto!

  6. Oh, risotto!! I love risotto. Such a welcoming comfort food. I hope you kept a little for yourself after all of that hard work. What a sweet and dear friend you are! What a great idea for something soft. But, as far as the vicodin goes, I'm with Jen. I have had 2 c-sections and passed on the vicodin because I hate it so much. I'd rather feel pain than the weirded out sensation of the vicodin. I know, I'm no fun like that...

  7. That's a good looking plate of risotto. Why have I never thought to put bacon in mine?

  8. It may be a lot of work, but risotto is always worth the effort. And you are an exceptionally nice friend to make this--I wish I lived next to you when I had mine taken out in high school!

  9. Risotto is perfection. Especially with seafood...

  10. he he you are funny and a good friend awesome risotto, oh and thanks for the shout out pleased to know I am not an asshole he he he

  11. Oh, I could really use some
    Emergency Risotto!! What a sweet friend you are.

  12. Risotto is my favorite...and you are right, it's not as scary as it sounds. What a great friend you are...for taking her risotto and for convincing her to take the Vicodin!

  13. Oooooo, yummy! I wish I had this a month ago when I got my crowns on. But no matter, this sounds so yummy I don't need an excuse to make it. And I love your directions, "add a glug of olive oil." The scary thing is, I know exactly what you mean by glug. Thanks for being such a dear friend to your friend - and to us for sharing this great recipe and story!

  14. Glad to hear the Vicodin worked. My wisdom tooth extraction still gives me nightmares!

    Your first risotto is absolutely fabulous! Much better than my first attempt. It is a process
    isn't it. I haven't ever tried it again but yours makes me want to.

    What a nice thing to do for your friend! :D

  15. Perfect! So when I drop by unexpectedly, I know you'll have a glass of wine for me! :D

    Vicodin is my husband's best friend - after two (and subsequent third!) knee replacement, vicodin makes Tony a happy boy! :D

    My MIL tought me how to make risotto, and I know its time consuming but the results are worth it - thanks for your recipe! :D

  16. I felt the same way as you did! I found an easy baked risotto. I was thinking of making it with the pie pumpkin I just bought. Used canned last time.

    It's so nice to have friends like you!! So thoughtful, when someones in pain, with risotto in hand. It sounds good:)

  17. Jessica: I do believe we would get along...Vicodin yummy :)

    GEW: I am truly proud of your soup experience! Shoot me the recipe if you get a minute? Yay for you!

    Laura: I did keep a little for myself. I chilled it, made it into a little cake (same method as the bean cakes) and crisped it up in some hot olive oil. Swoon.

    Wendi: I have bacon on the brain. Pig is good!

    theycallmejane: I'm glad you knew what a "glug" was...as soon as I wrote it, I thought, "shit, I sound like Jamie Oliver..."

    theungourmet: if you try risotto again, I will try (gulp) yeast...

    biz319: as, embarrassingly enough, EVERY neighbor of mine knows, we always have wine in the house...so if you're ever making risotto or a beef daube and are short on wine, I'm the chick to call...

    Lyndsey: baked risotto? Tell me more!

  18. Bacon + Vicodin = WIN!!!11!1!1111!1!11!11
    You're a sweetie, Witch.

  19. Love this. LOVE it. I become the (vegetarian) risotto fairy at my own house for my OWN SELF about once a week. A REAL dinner that is not kid food and yet that the kids will eat. Genius.

  20. Jen: stick around for Meatless Mondays once a month! Good one coming next week...unless I get the disgusting, phlegm-tacular crap that my hubs and Miss M. have....

    jc: I like the way you think...

  21. Yeah, I have Arborio rice in my pantry, too.

    Teasing you!

    I think you sound like a WONDERFUL friend! I'll be sure to call you after enduring any dental nightmares.

  22. They call risotto the food of love because it's such a pain in the culo to make. Looks like you pulled off the whole liquid/solid balance the first time around.

  23. So sweet of you to make this for your friend. I remember living on butternut squash soup for about a week. Not to shabby, and I did lose a couple of pounds. I said yes to the vicodin though, especially those first couple of days.

    The risotto looks so creamy and tasty. I have never been able to make it decently. I'll try this next time.

  24. Hey hon, I've passed the Kreativ Blogger Award on to you. For real. It's all here at http://bonappetithon.com/2009/10/28/its-a-major-award. Thanks for being an awesomely Kreativ Blogger.

  25. Delish! I would love to have some of that!

  26. I love risotto - yes it is high maintenance but it is worth it and relatively easy once you know how. I hope Jen enjoyed it and is now not in pain so much?? xxx

  27. How wonderful she finally got her medicine, and how sweet of you to make her risotto!!! :)

  28. Your risotto is better than vicodin...especially with an extra glass of vino on the side. Great risotto! It's actually easy, isn't it? To be honest, I don't babysit mine by stirring constantly. Somehow, mine always turns out anyway. It's great comfort food!

  29. I can send you the recipe that I adapted my baked risotto from. Let me know!

  30. Lyndsey--I'd love it! Thanks!

  31. Love risotto and love the time it takes. It's clearly a pre-kid dish if you make it right, but ooooooh it's good.
    I have a signature lemon artichoke parmesan risotto from Molly Katzen that I adore. I'll bring you the recipe.

  32. TTTTTTTTKKKKKW! I had my wisdom teeth pulled my freshman year of high school. My face blew up like Eric Stoltz in The Mask. Even my mother could not look at me without laughing. (The snorty laugh too, not the silent discreet type.)

    The repressed trauma is more than I can bear. Reading this post brought it boiling back to the surface. Please send me risotto. And it has to be this risotto. With the bacon.

    Thank you.

  33. ESFFT: do you not know that Eric Stoltz is the only redhead in history to make my sex drive wanna go out to the driving range? Some Kind of Wonderful is awesome, awesome, awesome and I am so not afraid to say in 80's fashion...add another awesome!

    However, Eric would probably reject me, because when I do laugh, I go for broke...snort optional.

    PS: TheGreatMcBride...you think you can hide from me?

  34. Dang, I smoked out the wrong culprit...ESFFT, who are you, hilarious thing?

  35. thank goodness i read this. i have a butternut squash on hand for the most fabulous risotto dish i have ever made. i swear it comes from god and don't ya know "god" is used solely as a derogatory term in this house. uh, that sounded bad. oh well.

    anyhoo. roasted butternut squash risotto: so good it actually stimulates my sex drive AND lends in the follow through... not an easy feat.

  36. And, the more you cook risotto, the more you get to know how little stirring you can get away with. The learning curve is rewarded.