I decided to make risotto for the first time. I wanted to do it with brown rice. The main reason I wanted to use brown rice is because brown rice is cheap and healthy. Another reason I wanted to do it is because so many people insist that you have to use a special kind of rice that costs a lot more and has more calories and less fiber and isn’t as healthy for you as ordinary brown rice. Piffle.
Hey, it’s just rice. You can do all kinds of things with all kinds of rice. For thousands of years, all over the world, people who don’t even have a kitchen have been cooking rice with the most primitive cooking equipment. You can cook rice in a tin can by a campfire. It’s nothing to be afraid of, and there is no “right” way to cook it as long as it’s edible and you like what you get. (Heck, let’s just make that “as long as it’s edible!”)
Then this week I read this, over at the Gluten Free Gobsmacked blog:
“No aborio rice on hand. … I had to make do. I’m not running out for rice when we have rice in the house even though it isn’t the same grain. And besides brown rice is healthier for you as it has the whole grain and has not been stripped of the bran – or outer layer. And you know what? With a few cooking adjustments to my risotto recipe, it made a great risotto!” — Creamy Brown Rice Risotto, by Kate
So, having given myself the go-ahead, I got started. Then I found out I didn’t have enough brown rice. So I used a cup of brown rice and cup of black sweet rice. I cooked the rice (I used my rice cooker, but you can cook it on the stove, too) then added it to onions and garlic sauteed in butter and olive oil, and gradually stirred in vegetable broth a cup at a time until it was creamy and smooth.
I liked the result very much, especially when I sprinkled a little parmesan cheese on top! Like I said, this was my first time making risotto, and now I am interested in trying several variations. I want to try it with just brown rice, like Kate’s recipe. And I want try it with just black rice. And I want to try it starting with frying the uncooked rice with the onion and oil, and then adding the liquid gradually, in the way they do with the more traditional Italian risotto recipes. I look forward to the discovery, fun, and tasty enjoyment of trying lots of different ways of cooking rice.
That part I wrote about adding “liquid” sure is vague, isn’t it? Yeah, it is, both as to exactly what kind of liquid and how much. It’s all up to you. In general, the amount will be somewhere in the neighborhood of twice the amount of liquid as the amount of raw rice you started with in the first place. So if you start with two cups of raw rice, then when you get around to stirring the rice with the onions and oil or butter, you’ll be adding about four cups of liquid. More or less. Probably more. I don’t care. Whatever you like. Approximately. Isn’t this fun?
And the type of liquid? I used a homemade vegetable broth that I made from scraps of onions, carrots and the tough ends of asparagus stalks. You can make this great broth for free from what you would otherwise throw in the trash. You can use any kind of broth. You can use chicken stock or beef stock or fish stock. You can use wine. You can add vinegar. You can use a combination of stock, wine and vinegar.
Basic Risotto Guidelines from AllRecipes.com and Basic Brown Rice Risotto description at 100 Days of Real Food give you an overview of this stuff, so you can go off in whatever directions you like.
And some interesting variations:
Shrimp and Spinach Brown Rice Risotto — Wow, this looks good. Really good.
Hey, it’s just rice. Have fun with it! Like Heather, over at the Eating Dirt blog, says:
“For starters, risotto is an easy last minute dinner, requiring little thought, that is limitlessly flexible. …In addition, preparing a delicious risotto requires no timer, no exact amount of anything, and best of all, no skills whatsoever.” – Heather Knape
Hey, now that’s my kind of cooking!