Monday, February 15, 2010

risotto alla inglese

I bought myself some cheese for Valentine's Day. I already had chocolate, c/o these cookies, which I'd made for Saturday night's party. And strictly speaking, I think I prefer cheese to chocolate.

My cheese budget is not large, but the local upscale market had a Cotswold cheese on sale, and in small enough knobs that I could feel economical and hedonistic both at the same time. I've never had Cotswold before, but it was lovely on crackers, and with tangy Braeburn apples.

Still, tonight I planned on a risotto using the shitake mushrooms in this week's farm box, and I wasn't originally thinking about cheese. But when I realized I'd forgotten to buy herbs, I thought immediately of the Cotswold, of which there was about 1/3 c. left, and which had the sort of crumbly, creamy texture that made me suspect it would work quite well.

And indeed, it did.

So, in case you've never cooked a risotto:

1. chop up an onion, and toss it in a pan over low-medium heat with some olive oil.
2. While it's cooking (stir it a bit), chop up your mushrooms, and three big cloves of garlic.
3. When the onion is getting translucent, throw in the mushrooms and garlic, and stir them around a bit.
4. Take another pot, set it on low, and pour in 1 qt of chicken broth, just so it'll be warm as you add it.
5. After the mushrooms have started to cook, but don't yet have that limp fully-cooked look yet, throw in about 1 to 1 1/4 cups arborio rice. Even though the pan seems dry, just stir them around in what little juices remain for 1-2 minutes.
6. If you've got it, pour in about 1/2 cup white wine, stir for a couple minutes while it's absorbed.
7. Now all the complexity is over. At this point, just ladle in a bit of broth, and stir while it's being absorbed. Repeat ad infinitum till your rice is nice and swollen, and your broth is gone.
8. Just after you add the last bit of broth, dump in your crumbled Cotswold cheese. Stir, so it'll have time to melt. It melts beautifully. Add some pepper, or oregano, or whatever floats your boat at this point.

And congrats, you're done! The finished risotto should be just slightly soupy. But not especially. Top it with a pinch of parmesan if you like, but it doesn't really need it.

Not all cheddar cheese melts well -- but Cotswold certainly does. And I suspect that this would also work beautifully with a cauliflower risotto, using a recipe much like Jamie Oliver's right here. Or this one, if you're looking for a veggie option.

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