Notto Risotto

18 Jan

My adventure with rice continues. It’s a long and arduous road, littered with failures. A culinary journey of self-discovery and self-reproach. An odyssey, if you will, into the world of cereal grain staples.

Basically I still can’t cook rice.

But I found this little jar in M&S that promised to make a great risotto, all I had to do was add the rice and whatever I liked. There was a very easy recipe printed on the side so I decided to give it a go. The jar contained a paste that was to act like a stock for the risotto meaning I didn’t have to rely on myself for the flavour (or lack of it).

I added this gooey unction to a hot frying pan with some olive oil and added the rice for a minute or so. Then transferred all of it to a big pan, and poured in a litre of cold water.
While it was heating up I fried some diced chicken breast with dried sage and butter to throw in at the end. Here I am at this stage, the watery rice mixture seems to have a rather attractive scum on it!
I informed Twitter that I was about to attempt a risotto and the helpful hints came flooding in. It seemed the main thing to do was to just keep stirring while the rice was simmering. So I stood over that pan for nearly half an hour agitating that rice almost continuously. Everyone seemed rather concerned that the recipe had required me to add all the water all at once instead of gradually, but surely M&S couldn’t be wrong? I ploughed on…
Gradually the gloop seemed to take form and thicken, maybe I wasn’t going to dine on rice soup tonight after all?
I tossed in the cooked chicken and thought about how marvellous it was going to be to serve up an unctous, oozing, tasty risotto on my first attempt.
I started to think of trying a fresh pea one, using white wine in another and maybe buying an expensive slab of parmesan cheese to serve with all of these fabulous future risottos I was going to make.

But something happened, the rice had sucked up the stock, but also seemed to have sucked up everything else too. Every bit of moisture in the air, possibly the air itself. Suddenly it became massive. Massive and Hard!

My spoon stopped moving through the mixture. It had turned into a solid, chicken porridge.
I lifted up the heavy pan, made even heavier with it’s leaden contents, and upended it over my head. Nope, not a drop or a grain landed on me, I’d ruined it. Forget ooze, this stuff wouldn’t move at glacial pace.

I tried a spoonful, somehow the rice itself wasn’t even that cooked, it still felt rather bitty. But how could that be? It had consumed a bathtubful of water? It also had very little taste, maybe I should have relied on myself and seasoned it?
The chicken pieces tasted reasonably ok so I picked those out and ate them.

My dream of a fresh pea risotto, made with white wine and topped with expensive parmesan is back on the shelf. For now.


9 Responses to “Notto Risotto”

  1. Tony Hannan 19/01/2012 at 7:09 am #

    Oh Al I feel your pain. I do what my mum used to do, boil the S*** out of it for 15 minutes in stock (water with oxo in it, not the posh stuff) then drain and pour boiling water over it when it’s suitably soft. Risotto is bloody hard. I reckon there must be a gap in the market for a rice cooking kit?

    • Tina 20/01/2012 at 10:14 pm #

      Oh this made me cry! Keep it up Alice LOVE IT x

      • Alice Can't Cook 22/01/2012 at 9:26 pm #

        Oh Tina! If I hadn’t of been so drunk by the time I’d started to eat it I’d have cried too (but nearly an hour of stirring with a bottle of wine close by had happily blocked out the horror of the risotto)
        Thanks for reading honey xx

    • Alice Can't Cook 22/01/2012 at 9:24 pm #

      But I thought the jar of paste would help me! It was a kit Tony, a kit, and it let me down…. am going to try your mum’s recipe next time instead….

  2. Jenny Eatwell 06/02/2012 at 5:10 pm #

    Alice – I’ve got two or three Risotto recipes on Rhubarb & Ginger, which have been written by the Risotto King himself, my hubby. Do take a look – and choose one to follow. I’m sure you’d be able to make a lovely risotto, if you just follow his instructions!

    As for your jar of paste – when you read hubby’s instructions, you’ll know just how far off producing a risotto you were, thanks to the stupid paste.

    Making risotto isn’t hard – but it does require patience. So choose to make it on a day when everything has gone right and you’re feeling quite chilled. 🙂

    • Alice Can't Cook 06/02/2012 at 6:25 pm #

      Oooh thank you! I shall check his recipes out next time I make a risotto. But yes I think the mental attitude is as important, I love that you make the connection between being chilled and making a slow dish….


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