Who doesn’t need an extra pair of hands when cooking the holiday feast?
If you have a rice cooker in your kitchen, you are good to go then.
Because it’s almost like having an extra helping hand.
Especially when it comes to making risotto.
Imagine being able to make this creamy rice dish without having to stir it constantly. The rice cooker will free you up from that.
“Risotto Milanese” is from the 10th anniversary edition of “The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook” (Harvard Common Press) that was written by my two good friends, Julie Kaufmann (my former editor at the San Jose Mercury News), and Beth Hensperger, a James Beard award-winning and most prolific cookbook author.
The book boasts 250 recipes, many of which you’d never guess could be made in a rice cooker, including tamales, puddings and porridges.
Their “Risotto Milanese” is a favorite of mine that I’ve made many times. It’s made with saffron, yellow onion, white onion and chicken stock that go into the bowl of the rice cooker with Arborio rice. Push the button and let the rice cooker do all the work. Just before serving, you stir in a pat of butter and a shower of grated Parmesan. That’s how easy it is.
The rice gets fluffier in texture from the steam in the rice cooker than it would if cooked on the stovetop. It’s also not as loose in consistency. It’s a little different in that way than a traditional risotto. It gets a deep golden color from the saffron. And the taste is so satisfying, what with the cheese and butter folded into it.
This risotto is traditionally served as a side dish to osso bucco (braised veal shanks) or carbonata (Milanese beef stew), Kaufmann and Hensperger write in the book. But I think it also goes beautifully with fish, shrimp, roasted chicken, pork loin, rack of lamb and so much more.
(Serves 4 to 5)
Machine: Medium (6-cup) or large (10-cup) rice cooker; fuzzy logic or on/off kind
Cycle: Quick Cook and/or Regular or Porridge
3 cups chicken stock, or one 14.5 -ounce can chicken broth plus water to equal 3 cups
Pinch of saffron threads
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons medium-grain risotto-rice (superfine Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone nano)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
In a small saucepan or in the microwave, heat 1 cup of the stock and crush the saffron into it; let stand 15 minutes.
Set rice cooker for Quick Cook or Regular cycle. Place olive oil and butter in the rice cooker bowl. When butter melts, add onion. Cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add rice and stir occasionally until grains are transparent except for a white spot on each, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the saffron stock and remaining 2 cups chicken stock. Close cover and reset for the Porridge cycle, or for the Regular cycle and set at timer for 20 minutes.
When the machine switches to the Keep Warm cycle or the timer sounds, stir the rice with a wooden or plastic rice paddle or wooden spoon. The risotto should be only a bit liquid and the rice should be al dente, tender with just a touch of tooth resistance. If needed, cook for a few minutes longer. This risotto will hold on Keep Warm for up to 1 hour.
When ready to serve, add butter. Close cover for a minute to let butter melt. Stir in the cheese and salt to taste. Serve immediately.
From “The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook” by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann
WINNER OF LAST WEEK’S CONTEST: In the previous Food Gal contest, I asked you to tell me a fond memory of a favorite pet. The winner will receive a tin of Grey Dog Tea’s signature “Chile Mint Herb Tea,” plus a refill, in their choice of loose leaf or bags.
Rae, who wrote, “My story is about a greyhound. She was adopted by my husband and I. Her name? The Girl. She was the best dog! I know what your thinking, “thats what everyone says” But she was! My dad had a minor stroke and as part of his rehab he walked. Well The Girl kept Grampa company during the week while we worked and she also kept him on his schedule. His walking schedule that is! She would come into his office and stand there an stare at him. Always around 11:30am. If he was up and about she would nudge him in the behind to remind him it was that time. When we lost her to cancer it broke not only our hearts but my dads as well. He lost his day time compainion and walker. Funny my dad never liked any of our pets through out our years, but her he LOVED. She was so gentle with him never pulling. It’s been two years now that she’s been gone. But not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. She really was the best dog!”
More Rice Recipes: My Mom’s Chicken Rice
And: My Version of Jook