“How dare I tamper
with a recipe that
literally breaks every
and elevates all
to culinary sainthood?”
This recipe is one of my weekday staples for one major reason – it takes only 5 minutes which coincidentally happens to be what you need to poach your eggs and fry your bacon!
The trick is to par cook your rice in a reduced amount of water so that the center still has some bite. But if you just cook that further in the pan with stock until it becomes creamy, you’ll end up with congee, because the additional liquid means that the rice will eventually absorb more water and lose its perfectly cooked center. To fix this, we want to keep the amount of time the rice spends in the pan as short as possible.
But how do we get the stock to become creamy and “one” with the rice without the 20 minutes of stirring? Oldest trick in the book – corn starch. While I’m usually not a proponent for thickening agents in sauces (I prefer to either go through the pains of reducing it, or I’ll add some sort of ingredient that is meaningful in more ways than just to add body to the sauce), starch is a perfect fit in this case because the creaminess of a risotto comes from the starches released from the rice through relentless stirring anyway.
So there you have it – a risotto that’s essentially been segmented into
a) perfectly cooking the rice, and
b) adding liquid and adjusting the consistency
And how dare I tamper with a recipe that literally breaks every Masterchef contender and elevates all the Italian nonnas to sainthood? I’m a fourth-year UW student who can’t find it in her to shovel out 20 minutes to make dinner after a long day of class, that’s how. So if you want to go all traditionalist/purist/conservative on me, be my guest, just know that I am hangrily jealous of all that time you have on your wooden-spoon-holding, risotto-stirring hands.
Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.
-Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham
Arugula and Kale Risotto with Poached Eggs and Bacon
Serves 2 to 4
- 2 c lightly packed baby arugula
- 2 c lightly packed baby kale
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- To make the greens puree, bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil and add the baking soda. The alkaline baking soda will help intensify the green colour of the herbs.
- Blanch the greens for 10-15 seconds, or until wilted.
- Fish out the greens with a slotted spoon and plunge into an ice-bath immediately and stir until completely cold.
- Drain the greens and transfer to a blender to puree until smooth. Add a splash of water to help the blades grab onto the greens if necessary, and be careful not to blend for too long – the heat caused by the friction from the blades will dull the bright green colour.
- Push the puree through a fine sieve and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days until needed.
Note: the water will separate out into a layer on top of the puree after a day in the fridge – I actually prefer to let the puree settle slowly in the fridge for that reason. When I use it, I can just pour out the clear liquid, and I’m left with an ultra-concentrated shot of chlorophyll.
- 1 1/2 c al dente cooked short-grain white rice, chilled**
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp olive oil or butter
- 1 c vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 tsp corn starch
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 batch herb puree (above)
- Extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil, to drizzle
- Poached eggs and fried thick-sliced bacon, to serve
- In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat the oil and garlic gently on medium heat until the garlic is soft and fragrant.
- Add the cold rice and stir to coat each grain in the oil.
- Add the stock, stir, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 minutes, meanwhile in a small bowl mix together the corn starch with 2 tbsp of cold water until smooth.
- Add the corn starch water and salt to the rice and stir until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the herb puree.
- Spoon into small bowls, top with a poached egg and a slice of bacon, then finish with a few drops of good olive oil.
- Serve immediately!
**to par-cook rice, reduce the amount of water by 25% to 33% depending on how much bite you like in your risotto. For example, 1 cup of rinsed uncooked rice should be cooked with 2/3 to 3/4 cups of water in the rice cooker (with additional water in the outer pot). If you don’t have a rice cooker, reduce the amount of water in your usual stove top recipe by the same amount. Once cooked and completely chilled, you can store the rice in the fridge for up to a week and turn it into risotto in under 10 minutes on any week night (or morning)! You’re welcome.