Risotto Variations

I’ve eaten more rice the last couple weeks than I usually do in a couple months. I’m just not a rice person. It’s fine as long as there’s some sloppy curry all over it, but I’m not usually in the mood for straight rice. Risotto, including brown rice risotto (!), has meant I’ve been eating it several days a week. It’s cheap and not actually absurdly caloric .. if we can resist adding a bunch of cheese. Here are some variations that we’ve been doing off the basic recipe I last posted.

Mark Bittman conveniently posted a squash and brown rice risotto article not too long after the last post. It turns out that making risotto with brown rice works pretty well. It’s still so tasty you have to stop yourself from overeating, but it’s not quite so rich as arborio. His recipe was the traditional method, over the stove, but I basically translated it to the pressure cooker methods by guessing. It worked out alright though I probably could have let it sit at pressure a couple more minutes. The water hadn’t quite absorbed and so I had to cook it down a bit on the stove after adding some wine. Poor me.

After making several variations, I can confidently state that this recipe is pretty forgiving. If you use too much water, you let it cook down. If you use too much squash, you have more creamy squashy sauce. If you use too much cheese … who am I kidding? Does that even happen?

The basic outline goes like this:

  • Sauté in some oil some onion, diced small, until it gets at least translucent if not on the way to caramelized.
  • Add veggies such as: peeled and diced winter squash such as butternut or unpeeled (!) delicata; mushrooms, any kind, diced.
  • Add X cups of brown or arborio rice. My pressure cooker looks like it can probably handle at most 3 cups of rice (given that we’ll be adding twice as much water shortly).
  • Stir a bit to toast in the oil. It will start to look translucent but shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
  • Add twice X cups of water. For brown rice you can probably use a splash less.
  • Seal your pressure cooker and bring up to pressure.
  • Once at pressure, lower heat and cook for 7 minutes for arborio rice and maybe 9 or 10 for brown.
  • Quick-release the pressure by running water over the pressure cooker.
  • At this point, if you still have some water left you can cook it down. Optionally add wine.
  • Right before serving, stir in shredded cheese. We’ve mostly been using Cougar Gold from Washington State University. It’s delicious.

That’s the outline. It’s really forgiving. Pressure cookers are not as scary as you might think. Mine is a relatively cheap $30 (from the relatively expensive store Bed, Bath and Beyond) and has lasted me years with no trouble. Not only can you cook dried beans in it faster, you can cook fantastic risotto in it. Go forth and pressurize some rice and veg. You’ll be glad you did.

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