Monday, October 18, 2010


Inspired by the television show, Hell’s Kitchen, I decided to make risotto. I’d never had it before, never even been to a restaurant where it was on the menu. But at every season of Hell’s Kitchen, they make risotto. It must be good.

I got curious, so I did an Internet search and found a risotto recipe using dried tomato and fresh basil—two ingredients that I happened to have on hand. The recipe called for white wine, but since I’m not an alcohol drinker, I substituted white grape juice and added a tablespoon of vinegar.

Another Internet site explained the importance of warming the liquids before adding them. Making risotto didn’t look hard at all, and it wasn’t hard, actually. When the rice started looking like it might be done (I didn’t want the mushy risotto that makes Gordon Ramsey so angry), I tasted it. It was good.

One of the main flavor ingredients in risotto—and a constant in all the recipes I looked up—is parmesan cheese. Still, a cup seemed like an awful lot. I added about 2/3 cup instead, and the full recipe of dried tomato and basil.

The smell almost choked me! Dog vomit. (I’ve had a lot of recent experience with this, so I know.) Short grain rice isn’t cheap, however. Neither were the other ingredients—over a quart of chicken stock, the cheese, and the fresh basil and dried tomato—and I’d spent over a half hour making it.

I tasted it—almost like it smelled. Unfortunate. The kids ate it and said it wasn’t that bad, but there were still leftovers the next day. Brave soul that I was, or desperate, I added more chicken stock and luckily it helped. But I still won’t make that particular recipe again; too many bad memories of the first time.

What went wrong? I’m pretty sure it was my choice of parmesan cheese. It was the kind they sell in a jar already grated into dust-like bits. I have enough of the short grain rice to make another batch, and I will. I’ll just use a different recipe, and less parmesan. I can always add more if needs be, but once it’s stirred in, there’s no going back. Maybe I’ll try to find a recipe for the kind of green risotto that Gordon Ramsey makes (unless it’s green because of green olives).

When you try new recipes, they can’t all be wonderful. Right?

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