Did you think that making gluten free risotto (or otherwise) was fussy? Well, it isn’t. Even brown rice risotto isn’t fussy. But it is a little different, and I’d like to show you how in this particular risotto recipe. Don’t worry, though. I’ll be gentle and kind.[pinit]
I think there was an episode of The Next Food Network Star (is that still on?) years back where one of the would-be stars made risotto for some food luminary (Wolfgang Puck?). He positively skewered her attempt. Took her by the hand, led her back into the kitchen and gave her a lesson. I’m pretty sure what she remembers is not how to make risotto, but instead how she was made a fool. If you ask me, I’d say they both embarrassed themselves, he more than she. Then again, it was reality TV and you gotta take your lumps or they don’t get the ratings. And I guess she should have known that, but still.
Short grain brown rice (I buy Lundberg Family Farms brand, since it’s reliably gluten free and good quality) is pretty much a constant in my house. It’s much, much less starchy by nature than white arborio rice (not that I’m bragging about that – who doesn’t love the taste of the starch in arborio rice?), but if you cook it the right way it’s creamy and delicious. It does take a few minutes longer to cook than its white cousin, but it pretty obviously beats the pants off the white stuff in nutritional value and I have come to love its bite.
Now 2 of my 3 children are wild about mushrooms and even enjoy some lovely asparagus spears now and again. They get the whole shebang. The third of those children? Try as she might, vegetables are still a struggle for her, even at 11 years old. She has really tried. We recently discovered that she really enjoys raw baby spinach (especially if it’s drizzled with this roasted shallot vinaigrette), so there’s that. Anyway, that third child will eat some of the asparagus since she understands that vegetables keep you from gorging at every meal and will somehow improve her softball game (hey, don’t judge), but she can skip the mushrooms. So after I cook the mushrooms (see the directions below), I just remove them from the saucepan and set them aside. Then I quickly cook the asparagus and when I build this particular child’s bowl, I just … skip the mushrooms. No biggie.
Nobody wants me to skip the grated cheese. I mean, c’mon. The real secret to cooking brown rice risotto in particular is more stock (more liquid) and longer cooking time. Okay, that’s two secrets, but they’re not really secrets, as those go. They’re more like tips. But you kind of can’t beat this easy stovetop dinner. And since it starts with a base of pancetta, it’s smoky and salty and then still creamy and deep. Dinner is served!
Gluten Free Brown Rice Risotto Recipe
4 ounces cubed pancetta (can replace with 4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter)
2 medium shallots, peeled and diced
2 cup uncooked short grain brown Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (e.g., Pinot Grigio)
4 to 4 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Kosher and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons (28 g) extra virgin olive oil
10 ounces fresh white or baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
10 ounces fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the pancetta and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the fat is rendered (about 2 minutes). Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent (about 4 minutes more). Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until it has become somewhat translucent (about 2 minutes). Add the wine and continue to cook until the alcohol evaporates (2 minutes more).
Add 3 cups of the stock, stir, lower the heat to medium, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is mostly absorbed (about 20 minutes). Add at least another cup of stock and cook stirring frequently until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Continue to add stock until the rice is al dente (you’ll have to taste-test to determine) and the risotto is creamy. Salt and pepper to taste.
While the rice is cooking, place the butter and olive oil in a separate medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are softened (about 5 minutes). Add the asparagus and about a dash of kosher salt, cover and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes or until the asparagus is bright green and slightly softened. Remove from the heat immediately or you will overcook the asparagus.
Serve the cooked rice in bowls, top with asparagus and mushrooms and sprinkle with grated cheese.
Adapted from the Tomato and Corn Risotto on page 113 of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy: 100 Recipes for the Food You Love—Fast! (Da Capo 2012).