This Chili Cauliflower Risotto might be the most comforting dish after mac & cheese. It’s rich and cheesy, and the chili kick makes it stand out.
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After making Daniel Boulud’s Curried Cream of Cauliflower and Apple Soup, I had one more head of cauliflower to use. I still wanted to come up with an uncommon recipe, but one match made in heaven I couldn’t ignore is cauliflower and cheese. And one of my favorite dishes is risotto. I thought, wouldn’t a cauliflower risotto be nice?
Risottos are feared by many because they are believed to be long and hard to make, but it’s an unjust reputation. You sure have to take your time when making a risotto. The reason why they end up so creamy is because the short-grain rice used for making risotto contains a lot of starch that’s slowly released throughout the cooking, so you have to keep an eye on it and stir often or it will stick together and to the bottom of your pan. I’m always disappointed when I detect that cream has been added to a risotto to make it artificially creamier. It’s a dish that is rich enough on its own; adding cream makes its texture dessert-like and hides the natural nutty taste of the rice.
But long to make, it is not. Cooking a risotto, from sautéing your onions to adding the last ladle of broth, should take little more than 20 minutes. You do have to stay in the kitchen during that period to stir your risotto once in a while. You don’t have to stir it constantly. A couple quick stirs once every few minutes is enough. When I make risotto, I dice my onion and celery, measure my rice and start cooking it right away. I then use the rice’s cooking time to prepare and measure the rest of my ingredients as I need to add them to the recipe. No time wasted!
And hard to make? Not at all. No special techniques need to be mastered to make risotto. All you have to do is learn a basic recipe and know how to detect when your rice is al dente: grains should be plump but not mushy. Like pasta, it should be soft but still retain some texture when you bite into it.
When you master the basic onion/white wine/parmesan cheese recipe, it’s really easy to come up with your own flavorings and additions. Believe me: you will want to create variations just to get the excuse to make it more often. I challenge you to make risotto tonight, especially if it’s a weeknight, just to eliminate the idea that risottos should be relegated to special occasions.
The basic things you need to make a delicious risotto:
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