I used to be a fervent believer in the long, laborious stirring process of making risotto. Well, technically I still am, but let’s review the file known as “Getting Older” in relation to my cooking. I’ve developed carpal tunnel-like symptoms over the years, and constantly stirring something like risotto has become a numbing, and painful at the same time, experience. Hubby bought me a great tool that I’ve more than gotten our money’s worth out of, a Breville Risotto Plus rice cooker thingy for the counter top, and it’s amazeaballs at making risotto pretty much exactly as it would be if stirred into infinity. But then along came this recipe, and being that it’s almost Winter, what better time to discover its method.
I’ve heard of baking risotto before, but never felt the need to try it since the usual method worked just fine for me. Nowadays, though, it doesn’t hurt to try new methods, and I mean that literally. This method of oven baking the rice starts out exactly as a basic risotto does, so use the ideas in the recipe to make whatever variation appeals to you.
This particular risotto recipe is for all the cheesy broccoli lovers out there. If the idea of pouring a creamy, thick cheese sauce over the little trees makes your mouth water – and you like rice – hurry to the store and get the ingredients below.
So, like mentioned above, you just start this off like any basic risotto. Soften some small-diced onion in a heavy bottom pan, like a dutch oven or other such pot. Why this kind of pot? It’s going in the bottom of your oven, close to its heat source, and the temp will be high. Choose a pot that can withstand the heat. Next, add the small amount of wine called for and stir till that’s all absorbed.
Have a small pot of chicken stock already heated through (you could do this part on the stove or heat the stock in the microwave) and add it to your rice mixture. Bring this all to a boil and in the oven it goes. That’s the most work involved in this recipe. Me likey!
We set our oven timer to the halfway point in the cooking time because you need to take it out once and give it a stir. This is what it looks like halfway through the cooking time, which is pretty much what it would look like had you been stirring it nonstop with your tired hand and arm.
When the rice is done, you add in a little more water to loosen it slightly. It will be a little less creamy at the end of cooking time, whereas a regularly stirred risotto will usually be more of that creamy consistency we’re used to seeing in a risotto. Not to worry, though. That added water and a little butter start to bring it all back to the correct state.
And of course, the cheese will add to all that wonderful, creamy goodness we want in a risotto. Knowing us, it’s pretty likely a little more than a cup went into the rice. As always, if you’re a cheese fan, have a little extra shredded cheese prepared in case you decide one cup isn’t quite enough for your taste.
And hey – the broccoli! We didn’t forget about it. It was roasting on a rack in the top third of the oven while the risotto baked in the bottom third. The only thing we’d change about the recipe is to only roast the broccoli starting at the halfway point of the risotto. The full time would’ve been way too much for our little trees. At about ten minutes, they were perfectly roasted, neither too tender or underdone.
This was enthusiastically devoured by us at Full Fork, including my hubby. The kidlet…not so much, but no one was surprised by that at all. This was every bit as good as a risotto made the traditional way and I can’t wait to try other flavor variations: pancetta, onions, mushrooms, sweet baby peas added in last like the broccoli and the more traditional Parmesan. The possibilities are pretty much endless. Enjoy!
Broccoli-Cheddar Oven Risotto
from Food Network Magazine via FoodNetwork.com
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: about 30 minutes Level: Easy Serves: 4
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 3/4 cups arborio rice
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Bring the chicken broth to a low simmer in a saucepan. Toss the broccoli with the olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large Dutch oven or ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat. Pour in the wine and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the hot broth, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; bring to a boil. Cover and set on the bottom oven rack. Place the broccoli on the upper rack. Bake, stirring the rice and broccoli once halfway through cooking, until most of the liquid has been absorbed in the rice and the broccoli is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the rice and broccoli from the oven. Add 3/4 cup hot water, the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the cheese to the rice and stir until creamy (add a little more hot water to loosen, if necessary).Stir in the broccoli.
If you decide to adapt a regular risotto recipe to this oven method, you can probably cook the recipe up to the point you’d add the stock, but then, as with this one, just add that liquid in all at once, bring to a boil and pop in the oven. Keep in mind most that use bacon or pancetta advise those to be removed from the pan once crisp and added in after the risotto’s done. Some risotto’s cook meats in with the rice; those you can probably bake in with the rice using the above method (I’m going to see if this can be done with the Dirty Risotto we’ve tried here before). Just have fun with it, give it a try, and if you do, I’d love to hear how it turned out.