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Lemon Risotto



Lemon (and Veganish) Risotto
Print Recipe
With life being what it is today, both Chef Bill and I are finding it not only easy, but therapeutic, to turn to our outlet-of-choice: cooking! That means whipping up some of the old stand-bys, as well as creating recipes anew. You may remember from my first book, Clean Comfort, and past blogs, I kinda have a thing for Risotto. Always have. I grew up in the 70’s and that meant dinners rife with never-should-have-been-invented convenience foods like Minute Rice. Naturally, when I had my first hypnotic bite, circa age 30, of that creamy wonder known as Risotto, it was a transformational moment. Yes, it’s a simple carb, the kind I usually advise be regulated. And sure, it takes a more time and effort to make, but it’s time I find enjoyable. Some people choose jigsaw or crossword puzzles, or perhaps a game of darts or shooting hoops to elevate into a state of concentrated focus and temporarily leave the world and all its attendant messes behind. I’ve always done this at the stove, and the nature of cooking short-grained Arborio rice requires focus and patience to achieve that magical Goldilocks middle ground of soft but still structured rice. This can take practice and it’s humbling. But that’s another reason I adore Risotto. The hunt for the end-game instills me with a sort of sweaty-browed pride. I have to work for the reward. Sometimes, the outcome has been less than stellar, but it only serves to sharpen my skills and infuse me with resolve for the next venture. With this extended time we all have at home, what better opportunity to give a Risotto recipe a go? Truth be told, as a writer who works from home and have for years, my life isn’t all that different now as it is for some, but I still consider the imposed slowdown a gift. I appreciate my home more than ever, I savor each meal, as well as each can and jar in our pantry. And when I created this new lemon-infused riff on the Italian standard, it reminded me it was time to follow the lead of so many inspiring citizens of the world I’ve seen since things have shifted into an unignorably intense gear: it’s time to step up the sharing and caring…in whatever way I can. A new recipe’s a nourishing start, and I hope you not only enjoy it, but find the process a pleasant distraction. If not for my evergreen love of butter, this would be a flawless vegan recipe. And if you want it to be, simply use a vegan margarine or vegetable oil of choice. Where heavy cream once rocked my world, there is now coconut milk. The addition of coconut milk makes the dish even more creamy and because only one can is called for, there’s no overwhelming coconut taste.
    Servings
    6 people
    Servings
    6 people
    Lemon (and Veganish) Risotto
    Print Recipe
    With life being what it is today, both Chef Bill and I are finding it not only easy, but therapeutic, to turn to our outlet-of-choice: cooking! That means whipping up some of the old stand-bys, as well as creating recipes anew. You may remember from my first book, Clean Comfort, and past blogs, I kinda have a thing for Risotto. Always have. I grew up in the 70’s and that meant dinners rife with never-should-have-been-invented convenience foods like Minute Rice. Naturally, when I had my first hypnotic bite, circa age 30, of that creamy wonder known as Risotto, it was a transformational moment. Yes, it’s a simple carb, the kind I usually advise be regulated. And sure, it takes a more time and effort to make, but it’s time I find enjoyable. Some people choose jigsaw or crossword puzzles, or perhaps a game of darts or shooting hoops to elevate into a state of concentrated focus and temporarily leave the world and all its attendant messes behind. I’ve always done this at the stove, and the nature of cooking short-grained Arborio rice requires focus and patience to achieve that magical Goldilocks middle ground of soft but still structured rice. This can take practice and it’s humbling. But that’s another reason I adore Risotto. The hunt for the end-game instills me with a sort of sweaty-browed pride. I have to work for the reward. Sometimes, the outcome has been less than stellar, but it only serves to sharpen my skills and infuse me with resolve for the next venture. With this extended time we all have at home, what better opportunity to give a Risotto recipe a go? Truth be told, as a writer who works from home and have for years, my life isn’t all that different now as it is for some, but I still consider the imposed slowdown a gift. I appreciate my home more than ever, I savor each meal, as well as each can and jar in our pantry. And when I created this new lemon-infused riff on the Italian standard, it reminded me it was time to follow the lead of so many inspiring citizens of the world I’ve seen since things have shifted into an unignorably intense gear: it’s time to step up the sharing and caring…in whatever way I can. A new recipe’s a nourishing start, and I hope you not only enjoy it, but find the process a pleasant distraction. If not for my evergreen love of butter, this would be a flawless vegan recipe. And if you want it to be, simply use a vegan margarine or vegetable oil of choice. Where heavy cream once rocked my world, there is now coconut milk. The addition of coconut milk makes the dish even more creamy and because only one can is called for, there’s no overwhelming coconut taste.
      Servings
      6 people
      Servings
      6 people
      Ingredients
      • Ingredients
      • 2 cups Arborio Rice
      • 1 ounces stick unsalted butter or 4grapeseed or olive oil
      • 7 cups hot water or stock
      • 2 lemons organic if possible
      • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
      • 2 teaspoons Himalayan salt if using water instead of stock
      Servings: people
      Instructions
      1. Instructions:
      2. Risotto is best cooked in something with a sturdy, heavy bottom, such as a Le Creuset-type of enamel stock pot or what I use: a large, high-sided steel frying pan whose sides are about three inches high. Usually, this would be the part where I tell you to follow the instructions on the box of Arborio rice but since this recipe has a few more bells and whistles, I’m happy to walk through it with you:
      3. In large frying pan or heavy cooking pot, melt butter or heat oil over medium-high heat on the stove.
      4. Heat the seven cups of water or stock to just boiling in a separate saucepan. Turn heat off and keep the liquid covered until needed. In a smaller saucepan, heat the coconut milk on medium-low heat, whisking it periodically so it doesn’t burn. Heat milk until hot but not bubbling. Shut heat off and keep covered until needed.
      5. While waiting for butter to melt, cut lemons in half and with a reamer, strain juice through a sieve to catch the seeds into a small bowl and set aside.
      6. When the butter is melted, sprinkle the Arborio rice into the pan and stir with a wooden spoon so rice is evenly coated with butter. Continue cooking until rice just begins to brown a bit.
      7. Using a large soup ladle, gently pour one ladle of hot water or stock into the frying pan. The first time you do this there will be quite a sizzle from the frying rice so don’t be too startled.
      8. Stir contents of the frying pan rather vigorously until the liquid is completely absorbed. This is the key to creamy risotto. Once the liquid has absorbed, the rice grains will begin to exude their starch. This won’t happen if you cook the Arborio in the traditional way rice is cooked: adding rice to boiling water, covering, and simmering 20 minutes. But like I said, the end-result is worth the effort.
      9. The next 20 minutes or so will involve the repetitive process of adding a ladle of hot water or stock, stirring the rice until each ladleful is absorbed and repeating until all the water is gone. When you can, in between the marathon stirring session, scrape the zest from each lemon half with a grater or microplane and set zest aside on a small plate.
      10. When all the hot liquid is gone, stir in the warm coconut milk in similar ratios, if there appears to be too much liquid, that’s OK, it’s better to err on the side of creaminess. When coconut milk is mostly absorbed, turn the heat off and add salt (if using), lemon zest, and lemon juice and blend in thoroughly. Serve with a lemon garnish if desired and, hey, an ornamental pat of butter wouldn’t be out of place either.
      Recipe Notes

      The oh-so-worth-it end game...

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