Make an easy variation on risotto for a great weeknight family dinner.By Laura Holmes Haddad
As a mom of two, there are a few dishes I hardly make anymore. I used to be that girl standing at the stove, leisurely (even lovingly) stirring risotto in my copper risotto pot while sipping a glass of wine. But those days are gone, at least until my now-crawling infant son stops climbing up my legs and my daughter is in grade school (she's 4½).
But the risotto girl inside me was revived when I stumbled upon Ina Garten's recipe for "risotto." The quote marks are in there because this is not the classic risotto; this is a brilliant, mom-friendly "risotto" that takes away the spoon and uses the oven instead.
And not only is the process a salvation for moms, the flavors are perfect for kids. (Skip the peas if your kids are the white-foods-only sort; or mix in pureed butternut squash for a little color and a serving of vegetable.)
My only change to the recipe was when to add the wine. The white wine is crucial for flavor, but Garten's instruction to add it during the last two minutes of cooking seemed a little too boozy for a kid's meal. So I added it in the beginning, with the chicken stock, as I would with a traditional risotto. And use the best Parmesan you can find (ideally the real Parmigiano-Reggiano); the nutty, rich flavor is incomparable and makes it feel grown-up even if you're sitting at the kid's table.
Easy Parmesan 'Risotto'
Adapted from Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?"
Serves 4 to 6
1½ cups Arborio rice
5 cups simmering chicken stock, (preferably homemade), divided
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1. Heat the oven to 350 F.
2. Place the rice, 4 cups of the chicken stock, and the wine in a Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente.
3. Remove from the oven, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the Parmesan, butter, salt, and pepper, and stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy.
4. Add the peas and stir until heated through. Serve hot.
Zester Daily contributor Laura Holmes Haddad lives with her husband, daughter and son in Northern California, where she writes about wine and food and runs her website, gourmetgrrl.com. Her latest collaboration is "Plats du Jour: A Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country" with the girl & the fig restaurant in Sonoma, Calif., released in November 2011.
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