Get a load ‘o risotto
It’s said that Italians have a way with words and a better way with cooking starches.
Pasta is a famous prime example, but of course the real primo example (that’s an epic double pun, believe it or not) is so good that in Italy it’s often considered the essential starter for a full meal set. Risotto’s cheesy, creamy, delicate and versatile flavour is so beloved in the culinary community that an inability to make one is often cited as the mark of a true armature (pies be damned).
To say that I wanted risotto one evening would be an understatement. It was much more of a need than a want. I’m a man of sudden cravings and when I was smack in the middle of conversation with a co-worker at an Oram’s Retirement home in Gambo one evening, risotto was the food that my brain commanded me to make. There was a sticky wicket with that scenario, however; I was certain that none of the elderly residents of the home would be pleased by an exotic dish that they most likely had never heard about before in their entire long lives.
As I often do, I kicked my proverbial cook’s selfish gene aside and resumed my plans to make that night’s Jiggs’ Dinner. It wasn’t long after that a friendly resident named Percy came up to the kitchen nook and asked for a banana, as he often did. He really wasn’t encouraged to eat them at the home but I always had a hard time denying my elders any treats, especially healthy snacks.
Nonchalantly he asked me about the food I was speaking about earlier. I explained to him as best I could about risotto and the next question he asked me was if I could make some for him as a lighter substitute for supper. I grinned.
That was all the excuse I needed to make:
3 ½ cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups basmati rice
½ cup of white wine
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
¼ cup parmesan
¼ cup cheddar, shredded
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup frying ham, diced
½ cup red onion, chopped