Category Archives: Rice

Herbal Gifts Lead to Dinner

One of the nicest benefits of writing this blog (besides getting to electronically meet folks from all over the world) is that local friends often provide me with food gifts.  They give them to me because they know I will use them and I guess sometimes they are interested to see if I will write about what I do with them.

Recently, I was the lucky recipient of a large quantity of fresh herbs from my friend Karen’s garden.  Oh, boy, was I excited thinking about all I could do with this collection of flavors.

First up was a risotto with fresh sage and bacon.  I used to believe that I didn’t like sage.  I thought is was too strong and musty and it made me think of camphor.  But, then I realized that I only dislike dried sage.  Freshly picked sage is another story…it is lighter with a bit of lemony flavor.  Perfect paired with butternut squash or apple, or bacon…!

This recipe is the result of my experimentation with making risotto in the oven, instead of the stovetop with constant stirring.  It is great for an easy after-work meal.  This is inspired by a recipe from Delia Smith.  It is has a slightly less creamy texture than risotto prepared in the traditional way, but I think this is good in its own right.  I hope you do, too.

Oven Risotto with Sage and Bacon
Serves 4

about 2 Tbsp olive oil
4 to 6 slices of bacon, sliced into lardons (small, thin strips)
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1 cup arborio rice (specially made for risotto)
5 Tbsp white wine or lager beer (whichever you have on hand)
2 cups chicken broth
about 2 tsp fresh sage, chopped
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 to 4 Tbsp parmesan cheese, grated

First, find a pan that can move from the stovetop to the oven.  If it has a lid, that makes it really perfect.  If it doesn’t, you can just use foil instead.  I used an enameled cast iron pan that my brother passed down to me.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Place your pan on the burner and heat about 1 Tbsp of olive oil.  Add the lardons or bacon strips and cook.

Once the bacon starts to brown, add the diced onion.  Depending on how much fat your bacon has, you may need to add more olive oil at this point.  Stir and cook until the onion is soft.

Add the rice and stir to coat the grains in the oil.

Now, add the wine or beer, chicken broth, sage, and black pepper.

Stir to blend and turn down heat to low.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.

Turn off burner, cover pan with lid or foil, and transfer to preheated oven.  Bake for about 20 minutes.  Then, remove lid or foil cover, and add the grated Parmesan cheese.

Stir, recover, and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes.  The final texture should be thick with no liquid left.  If there is some remaining liquid, just stir, recover and place back in oven.  Check it every five minutes or so until it reaches the appropriate texture.

Serve warm and you may want to add a bit more grated Parmesan cheese to each helping.

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Filed under Rice

Don’t Be Squashed By A Recipe Risotto

If you have not yet made your own risotto, you should give it a try sometime soon.  An Italian rice dish, risotto is typically served as a first course, but it can be modified to serve as main course or side dish.  Plus, it works year-round as you can vary the flavor using in-season vegetables, meats, spices, and cooking liquids.

And, while I am going to give you one, you don’t need a recipe to make risotto.  You just need to understand the basic preparation of the dish, and add the ingredients you prefer.

First, start with the type of rice.  You want a medium- or short-grain rice.  They are better able to absorb liquids and release starch and become sticky.  The rice is sautéed for a short time in a soffritto (onion and/or garlic with olive oil and/or butter) to coat the grains in fat.  Wine and or beer is then added to be absorbed by the grains.  Turn up the heat  under the rice and gradually add small amounts of hot stock while almost constantly stirring.  It usually takes me 20 to 30 minutes of adding liquid and stirring; adding and stirring.  The stirring loosens the starch molecules from the outside of the rice grains into the cooking liquid to create a creamy textured dish.  During the last few minutes of cooking, you can add vegetables or meat (typically cooked) and stir.  Then, once you take off the heat, make it even more creamy by adding a bit of butter and grated cheese.

Butternut Squash Risotto
Serves 4 to 6

2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1/3 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup beer (I used lager)
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Spread chunks of butternut squash on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Roast in 450 degree F oven for about 25 minutes.  This is an easy step to do ahead of time.

In medium saucepan, bring chicken broth and water to boil.  Leave on simmer.
In another medium pan, heat remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil.  Add onion and garlic, and saute for 2 or 3 minutes until starting to soften.  Add rice to pan and toast for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Add beer and cook it out completely, stirring occasionally.  This took me about 3 minutes.  Then, while continually stirring, add hot broth and water mixture to the rice 1/2 cup at a time.  Allow the liquids to be absorbed each time before adding another 1/2 cup.  Continue until no liquid remains.
When the final 1/2 cup of liquid has been added and is almost absorbed, stir in cooked butternut squash chunks.  Stir in nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste.  Add butter and stir in as it melts.  Turn off heat and stir in grated Parmesan cheese.
Spoon into bowls and serve immediately.

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Filed under Rice, Vegetarian

End of Summer Risotto

The Midwestern boy that he is, my husband cannot get enough corn.  Truth be told, I get rather tired of eating corn on the cob, and look for other ways to include this summer bounty in our dinners.  This dish made me excited to eat more corn.

Risotto with Corn, Sausage, and Spinach
Serves 4 to 6

6 cups chicken broth
3 ears of fresh corn, shucked
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups trimmed spinach
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp butter
3 green onions or shallots, finely diced
1/4 lb spicy pork sausage, casings removed and crumbled
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup lager beer
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until very hot.  Add the corn and cook until the kernels are just tender, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Transfer the corn to a cutting board and reduce the heat to keep the broth hot but not simmering.  Once the corn is cool enough to handle and slice off the kernels.

Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large, heavy saucepan or medium  Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the spinach and toss with tongs until wilted, just 1 or 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a cutting board, let it cool slightly, and then coarsely chop.

Wipe the pan (used for the spinach) clean.  Drop in the butter and melt over medium heat.  Add the onions/shallots with just a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes.

Add the sausage, breaking it apart with a fork into crumbles, and cook until no longer pink.

Add the rice and stir until the grains are well coated with fat and the edges become translucent, about 2 minutes.  Pour in the beer and stir until it is absorbed, less that a minute.

Ladle enough of the hot broth into the pan to just cover the rice.  Bring to a boil and then adjust the heat to maintain a lively simmer.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the broth is mostly absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Continue adding broth in 1/2 cup increments, stirring consistently, and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next.  The steady stirring will break down the fibers of the rice, and make the risotto creamy.

After about 20 minutes, the rice should be just cooked but still fairly firm.  Now, add the corn kernels, spinach, and another 1/2 cup of broth.  Continue to simmer and stir until the corn is warmed through and the rice is just tender, probably another 3 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately with a sprinkling of parsley.

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Filed under Rice

Bring Forward Leftover Rice

My mother’s family referred to leftovers as brought-forwards. You know, bring it forward from the back of the refrigerator…I think of it also as bringing forward a new taste and giving an ingredient or ingredients another opportunity to shine and bring you joy.
That is what I decided to do with our leftover brown rice. I brought it forward and turned it into coconut rice pudding. It was delicious.
Coconut Rice Pudding
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups milk
1 to 1 1/2 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp or more of almond extract or amaretto
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup toasted coconut
Combine cooked rice, milk, coconut milk, sugar, and salt in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer and stir in raisins and almond extract. Keep stirring to break down rice and make creamy. You may want to add a bit more milk to make it the consistency you prefer. Cook until almost all the liquid is absorbed, at least 30 minutes, depending on how absorbent your rice is. Stir in cinnamon and toasted coconut. Divide rice pudding into individual serving dishes serve warm or chilled.

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Filed under Dessert, Rice