Until recently I have never made risotto. Heck, I’d never even tried it. Not because I didn’t think I’d like it, I’d just never had the opportunity or inclination. Then I got a free copy of Cook’s Country magazine and saw a recipe for Creamy Baked Risotto.
I’ve watched Emeril Lagasse and Gabriele Corcos (from Extra Virgin on Cooking Channel) make it and all of that stirring seemed intimidating. I remember Emeril screaming into the camera that you should not leave it for any reason just keep stirring and stirring. If you’ve never tried to make it, the basic idea is that by slowly adding liquid and constantly stirring it the starch is released from the rice and makes a nice creamy “sauce”.
Finally, one night a few weeks ago, I reached to the back of the cupboard and found the Arborio rice and followed the directions on the package. More or less. I was making it for J to eat too and he won’t eat onions, so I eliminated those. I also didn’t have any wine on hand (normal in our house unless I am entertaining), so I swapped it for more stock. And I just omitted the saffron powder, because I am cheap and that stuff is ridiculously expensive. I kept mine super simple: rice, stock and parmesan. And since my stock is homemade with no salt added the entire recipe is low sodium!
Cook’s Country added some other ingredients to their Creamy Baked Risotto like butter, garlic, bay leaves and parsley. But, for comparisons sake, I used the exact same ingredients as above. Their method is detailed on their website, but it is “premium content”, you have to pay to get the recipe.
The basic instructions are simple. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make sure your pan can go in the oven! Then follow the first paragraph of my recipe below. Add the remaining liquid. Place aluminum foil in the pot to the top of the liquid then drape the edges up the sides and over the top of the pan (the picture should help give you the idea). The key here is you do not want a gap between the liquid and the foil which will result in steamed rice and won’t have the creamy sauciness of risotto. Put a lid on the foil to make sure the seal is pretty tight. Bake about 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
As far as preparation method and time are concerned, I didn’t think the traditional method was as hard as I had let myself originally believe. You just have to stand there and stir. Time consuming, yes. Difficult, not at all. The second method was easier and should have been faster. As you can see from the pictures, I used a small crock instead of a pot and it ended up taking twice as long. My fault, not the fault of the recipe.
But how did it taste? The baked risotto was good. If I had only made it this way and not the traditional way I might have thought it was better than it was. I would give the traditional method an A and the baked a B or B+. And a B might be just fine on a weeknight when you have been running around all day and don’t feel like standing and stirring for 30 minutes. If you have the time and inclination though, the traditional method is superior in both taste and consistency.
Until next time, happy eating.