Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Baked Risotto - an easy alternative to Slow Cooked Risotto

I get many hits on my blog from people looking for the recipe for Slow Cooker Risotto, but I find that we make this baked risotto much more often. It's just as easy, if not easier, and it can be ready in less than half the time.

We typically go for a risotto al formaggio which is sometimes perked up by the addition of some chorizo or, in this case, leftover Christmas ham. The only part of this recipe that can be considered work is the dicing of the onion and perhaps the gently fry of the onion and some garlic in oil before adding the rice. I do keep to the more traditional risotto instructions at the beginning right up to the point where you deglaze the frypan of onions, garlic and rice with some white wine. Then all that needs to be done is to tumble the rice mixture into an ovenproof dish, cover it with some stock and put it in the oven for about half an hour. When it's finished, all that needs to be added is some butter and grated parmesan and you're done. It's fantastic.

The choice of rice is the key to making this baked risotto work so well. In order to get that lovely creamy texture, a good quality carnaroli or vialone nano rice should be used. These rices are much higher in starch which means that they will still become nice and creamy without constant stirring to release the starches. Arborio rice will work, but because it isn't as starchy the finished risotto won't get to be as creamy. I used carnaroli for this one.

Although this is very much a "set and forget" for most of the oven process, do start checking on it 5 or 10 minutes before time. My cantankerous oven cooked the above for 40 minutes, but it was slightly overdone. Not overcooked, which I think the carnaroli helps with since it's supposed to be hard to overcook, just that it had taken up too much of the stock. I like my risotto to be a little more gloopy.

Baked Risotto
a recipe by me

2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup white wine (I normally just eyeball it, more won't hurt it)
1 cup carnaroli or vialone nano rice
2-3 cups chicken stock
1 tbs butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius and lightly grease an ovenproof dish that has a lid. I use my pyrex casserole dish. If you don't have a dish with a lid, you can cover the dish tightly with foil.

Heat the oil in a frypan over medium heat and add onions and garlic. Fry gently until the onions soften but don't let them brown. Add the rice and mix well, so all the rice grains are covered in the oily onions. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine has been absorbed.

Place the rice/garlic/onion/wine mixture into the ovenproof dish and cover with stock. I generally only need 2 cups of stock to cook the rice and I reserve the rest for if the rice is absorbing the stock too fast or if it is too dry at the end of cooking. You may need more if you are using a larger dish.

Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until rice is cooked and stock is absorbed. I stir halfway to make sure there is enough stock.

Once rice is cooked give it a stir to activate the starches. Add the butter and cheese and stir well.

If you want to add extras like our leftover Christmas ham, fry them up in the same frypan you used for the onions/rice while the rice is cooking and add them along with the butter and cheese.

Easy and delicious.

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