Risotto With Friends



When we first started this blog, one of the first posts we shared listed 10 reasons why you all should love making risotto (which were basically 10 reasons I love making risotto).  Since then, my love of making risotto, and the reasons I love making it, have not changed.  But, my technique has changed slightly, so I’m back with an update for you.

Risotto

This all started when we attended a cooking demonstration a while back.  And when I say “cooking demonstration” what I really mean is that one of our fellow yacht club members was “hired” to entertain a room full boaters for an hour.  These were the same boaters who, for the previous hour or so before the presentation, had been entertained with a generous happy hour.  So, perhaps not the most attentive audience a presenter could hope for.  Even so, Bob had credentials (he is half Italian) and was willing, and people were hungry, so it was a sell-out crowd.

As Bob was going through his demonstration, I sat there mentally checking off the steps that I do when making risotto.  There wasn’t much difference between his process and mine.  However, I also learned a few new things.  Perhaps one key thing is, rice matters.  Up until that point, I had always used Arborio rice (because it was what I could find at Safeway).  After Bob’s demonstration, I was compelled to try Carnaroli.  I couldn’t find it at any of our local grocery stores, so I ordered it from Amazon.  And, Bob was right. Rice does matter.  I’m now a convert and will always use Carnaroli rice in the future.

While the first few steps of my and Bob’s processes were very similar, his last few steps were different.  That’s when I was introduced to the concept of mantecato, an Italian word meaning whipped or whisked.  Basically, after all the chicken stock has been incorporated into the rice, you cover the risotto and let it sit for about 5 minutes.  Then, you add some cold butter and “whip or whisk” vigorously.  The results?  Super creamy, ridiculously delicious risotto.  One cook described it as “practically melting.”  I’ve updated my risotto recipe with these new steps and instructions.

If you’re not yet convinced that you need to go make a pan of risotto, read 10 Reasons to Love Making Risotto.

We recently participated in a dinner party that was simply and unquestionably delightful.  It was similar in concept to a potluck in that all the attendees were responsible for providing part of the meal.  However, while in a traditional potluck everyone prepares food ahead of time in their own kitchens, this potluck was different because a lot of the food was prepared at the party.  Which was the point.  The idea for this party was born after several glasses of wine when we were talking about our shared love of cooking and entertaining.  The conversation shifted to making risotto.  Ken, who was eager to learn how to make risotto, suggested having a party where I could make it while others watched (and learned).  This curiosity, along with the fact that he claimed to make a mean osso buco (braised veal shanks), lead to him hosting the party.

Lillet CocktailSo, one fine afternoon we all descended upon Ken and Susan’s house.  Ken had started preparing his osso buco a couple of hours earlier.  The hosts provided us a Lillet cocktail to start and Jon served a round of Negronis.  Vanessa provided the caprese-in-a-glass starter.  (Check out the presentation of the salad in a martini glass.)  The osso bucco would be the main dish and would be accompanied by my risotto and Susan’s glazed carrots.  We finished the meal with poached and glazed pears ala Greg.

Caprese Salad in Martini Glass

I’m happy to report that we didn’t destroy our friends’ kitchen.  And, while any evening with these people is a fun one, I especially enjoyed the communal, all-people-gathered-around-one-stove effort for the purpose of preparing a joint meal.  It was such a good time that I *may* even consider offering up my kitchen for a similar dinner party sometime.  That is, unless I can once again get enough wine into Ken that he repeats his offer to host another party at his house.

Happy Entertaining!

Italian Rice for Risotto  Rice in Butter

Here's How We Make Risotto

Adding the Wine

Cooking With Friends

Three Pans, Three Cooks  Good Friends and Laughter

Plating - Osso Buco, Risotto, Glazed Carrots

Dinner is Served

Friends Around the Dinner Table

Click here to get recipe


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