salmon risotto_MAGIA!MANGIA! monday

culinary resolution

So I have a kitchen back!

This Saturday was my maiden voyage of making a big home made meal for my family; with all the new counters and cabinets intact, all my kitchen tools in one place.

Despite feeling under the weather {I can usually count on one hand the number of days no one in our family is sick in the month of February} I really wanted to break in  all that shiny and new to cook something hot and comforting.

I chose Salmon Risotto.

I have this thing for Risotto:

the rice that swells up to pasta

the dish you spend 30 minutes standing and  stirring

the simple starch that lends itself to untold variations of meat, cheese, herbs…depending on mood and what’s in your refrigerator.

I first stumbled upon how to cook Rissotto “the real way” {Read: slow cooked on the stovetop  not cooked in the oven} from Shauna Niesquist’s Memoir/Recipe book , Bread and Wine: a love letter to life around the table with recipes.

As Shauna talks about in her book Risotto is one of those perfect comfort meals because it is so gooey and hot and easily slides into one bowl come serving time.

It is one of those perfect -drinking- wine- and-relax- while- you- cook- meals too because the cook will spend a good half an hour in front of the stove simply stirring&adding, stirring&adding.  Nothing complicated, literally chicken broth to your rice; one cup at a time.

This sounds like annoying, agonizing work to most I know. When I first read the recipe I held off for months because it was “so time consuming”.  However, as I wrote when I first started Mangia!Mangia!monday:

we have lost something as a society of women when preparing food for our family, or friends, or ourselves, is considered dreaded chore work.

Food is so important.

It is so time consuming.

It represents a big part of our monthly budget.

I used to dread the question: “what’s for dinner?”.

And some days it still sets my teeth to clenching, because I am so freakin’ tired.

However, stress or no stress, busy or not busy, we need food. We need real food. The act of sharing a meal is recognized in virtually every culture, tribe, society, in every age and every religion as something good and nurturing not just for the physical body but the whole person, for every person gathered. If this is true, then it makes sense that the process of planning and preparing this great need/want should not be reduced down to a to-go bag or instant boxed mush one zaps in an oven for five minutes.

MANGIA WARNING!:It is very, very, easy to get all preachy and food Nazi about being…well, whatever current sayings are trendy now:

organic

clean

paleo

gluten-fee

non GMO

fair trade

vegan

and those are just a handful that have been buzzing around the internet and have landed in the market grocery world in the last few years!

What I have found as enriching and good and makes myself and my family more happy is finding out not our dietary type {see exhausting list above} but rhythm.

I found this rhythm, interestingly enough, when I went back to work. I think because in leaving my home for a period of time every day I recognized and missed what makes my home such a beautiful place. It brought into focus what were those strong golden conduits of what brings the adults peace, makes the home happy.

Sometimes we throw pepperoni and cheez-its at the kids and sneak left over cake for ourselves for dinner later.

But we strive to purposely create a set time, by CHOOSING NOT TO DO SOME THINGS, so we can do this other thing called: preparing a meal. {this means saying “NO” to others including your children, your friends, your church, your work}. It is possible, and no one will die, and your kids won’t end up drugs I promise! {okay maybe they will, after all I don’t know you kids, but I bet you it won’t be because they needed more after school clubs and sports}.

We are not that perfect happy family, healthy cooking family, lets hold hands and sing and pray family, every night by any means.We are not without stress or swearing,  or apologizing for bad behavior. We have just purposely made meal preparing a part of a needed family rhythm because it is important and good. That which is important and good, I guarantee, will bring health and joy in the long run to your life. And if you have increased health and joy those around you will too. Not in a day or a week, or moth, but in the full culmination of your life.

culinary resolutionOkay!  Unto the Mangia! Mangia!

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mangia risotto

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of arborio rice {sometimes labeled risotto rice in stores}

olive oil

4-5 cloves of garlic

1 small onion or half a large

1/2 cup of favorite wine or cooking wine

6 cups of chicken broth

favorite cheese

favorite herbs

whatever meat you are in the mood for, have on hand, or omit and go vegetarian!

sea salt and fresh lemon {if using fish}

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1.  Start by putting all that broth in a pot and keep on very low heat {this is going to be what will transform you crunchy rice into what tastes like gooey pasta}
  2. Unless you are using fish cut and chunk up your meat in bit sized pieces now and put that to low heat also. Make sure to add water and to not let it dry out. I always add some onions and shake on herbs to my meat at this time too. Tip: If using salmon cut it into chunks while partially frozen, since the skin makes it difficult to cut, and then add lemon and sea salt and put aside. Don’t cook your fish early, not necessary, it will just dry out!
  3. Get a large saute or frying pan and add a good coat of olive oil, and put that on very low heat…yes there are a lot of pans in this recipe
  4. chop on your onion and mince up your garlic until lightly cooked and onions are translucent, not browning or crispy, it should smell amazing and take only a few minutes
  5. then throw all two cups of arborio rice in and stir with a wooden spoon till it is good and coated.  It is gonna pop and sizzle and steam…this is good
  6. when it looks coated add your wine….the deal with wine: if you are going vegetarian or using white meat, I suggest white wine as red will instantly turn your rice pink. But if you are throwing in steak or ground beef the dark tones of the meat will de-pinkify your dish.  If you or those you are feeding don’t care about pink food, then just add whatever…we are whatever people
  7. here comes the stirring&adding, stirring&adding bit: stir frequently until it is reduced to only a scant amount of liquid.
  8. Repeat this process with one cup of your warming chicken broth…not drying out…not liquid-y more of a I- can’t-really-explain-it-you-just-have-to-try-it kind of thing.  Remeber: add it one cup at a time. Typically it takes several minutes for the cup of broth to absorb slowly into the rice.  Again this is the magical part:  While still technically rice the arborio will swell and soften to appear and taste more like orzo pasta. I find this Harry Potter Magical.
  9. When all the broth is now in the rice add your favorite cheese. For this recipe we used about 3 slices of Havarti cheese.
  10. Now if using meat, add your meat once you know it is cooked.
  11. Add your favorite herbs to go with your version of risotto. I always use several and then add a dash or two of a surprise, sneaky seasoning. For this meal I used my trusty garlic salt, pepper, italian seasoning can, and my sneaky surprise was two shakes of cumin
  12. You are back to stirring again!  Get it into a gooey confection of culinary goodness. Take a small spoon and sample.  If there is no crunch to the rice she is done. If there is:  Keep stirring, possibly adding a bit more water/wine/both to keep from drying out
  13. Serve in bowls with a side of crusty bread and steamed veggies when done. Carrots are our family’s go to

*******************************************************

So there you have it!

The first time is the hardest.

But this is my go-to meal because the basic ingredient chopping and the stirring while sipping on some wine is the best way for me to unwind and take care of my family at the same time.

I had Relax Riesling Wine to go with it, which is perfect with salmon.

I listened to my Adele/ Nora Jones/ Dinah Washington/ Nat King Cole pandora station along with it.

Mangia!

&

Cheers!

And as always:

fresh

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