Ah, Friday night. Is there anything with the potential to be more blissful?
I wanted to be home the minute I sat down at my desk at work today. It wasn’t a particularly bad or stressful day, but one spent crunched up over a keyboard, breathing canned office air, and longing for my bed, my couch, or pretty much any flat, upholstered surface. Oh, and something yummy. Gooey. Tangy. Slightly sinful.
Enter the memory of one particularly well-written bit about standing over a stove, stirring mindlessly.
“I make this, too, on days when I need to escape to the kitchen and have a good, quiet, relaxing, and mindless 20 minutes staring into the middle distance and stirring.”
I just love Nigella.
Herewith, the recipe that brings this beautiful moment of zen to fruition. A perfect way to stand up tall, breathe wine- and broth-scented steam, and stir, stir, stir.
Nigella’s Stir-and-Soothe Cheddar Cheese Risotto
Original recipe, which appears in Nigella Express, here.
Below, my version – slightly altered because I’m lazy.
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used extra-virgin olive.)
4 green onions, finely snipped with kitchen shears
1 1/2 cups arborio rice (Regular rice won’t work, so pay attention at the store. And be prepared to buy a $9 bucket of rice. Worth it.)
1/2 cup white wine (Yeah, that bottle hanging out in the fridge will do.)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups (ish) grated Cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
First up, put the chicken stock in a saucepan on low. Let it heat up while you put away the groceries and make space in the kitchen. When you’re ready…
Melt the butter and oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the snipped onions and cook for a couple of minutes, until soft. (These start out pretty soft, so just stir them around a bit. Don’t let them burn.)
Greasing up the grains
Add the arborio rice and stir for about a minute. This is going to coat the grains in butter and oil – yum. Turn the heat up a little bit (I went from 4 to 6), add the wine and mustard, stir until the wine is absorbed. Breathe deeply; let the oniony steam remind you of everything good in the world.
Now the soothing stirring begins. Add the hot chicken stock, ladle by ladle – about a cup at a time – to the rice and stir. Let each addition of stock become fully absorbed before adding another one. Nigella says this takes about 18 minutes – I take a little bit longer. Ladle and stir, ladle and stir. Rock back and forth on your heels. Do what soothes you.
I save about 1/2 cup of the stock for the very end. When the rice is the way you want it (at least al dente, definitely not crunchy), add the last bit of stock and stir just until incorporated. That helps give the final dish a gooey, creamy finish.
Remove from heat immediately and stir in the Cheddar until melted and smooth.
Dish up, park yourself in front of the TV, and enjoy.
Doesn’t that feel better?