Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lemon-Artichoke Risotto

Recipe modified by Gretchen Wilson – January 26, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in Every Day with Rachael Ray, published February 2011.

I had an incredible lobster risotto not too long ago and it inspired me to make my own.  I’ll be honest, I had my local pizza joint all fired up on speed-dial – that was my level of confidence with this dish.  I had nothing to fear, and neither should you.  It seems really daunting, but risotto is a pretty easy dish to make.

Here’s my complaint.  This was in the magazine and listed on the website as being a $10 meal.  Are they kidding?  Okay, if you already have the rice on hand, the portion you use is their estimate, but who has risotto rice on hand?  It isn’t like it is a pantry staple.  And let me tell you, they recommend one of the most expensive types of risotto rice - arborio.  I spent $15 on the rice alone and if you aren’t aware of the price before visiting the grocery store, you’re going to be in shock.

My finished product:

© You Want Me to Cook?

Picture published with recipe:

© Every Day with Rachael Ray

I think my risotto turned out creamier than theirs!  This could be in part because I used only half of the artichokes and chopped up my walnuts well.  It looked so good on the plate that I couldn’t wait to eat it.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessSIGH – don’t get me wrong, there’s one pot for the stock and one for the rice, but the prep work is so messy that it made me crazy.  It mostly centers on the lemon peel and parsley.  I hate chopping parsley… it gets EVERYWHERE!  Don’t forget you have to drain the artichokes and then chop them as well.

Start-to-Finish Time: ABOUT AN HOUR – you’ve got about 30 minutes of cooking the rice and this is after you get the broth to boil.  The nice thing is that you can prep the rest of the ingredients while the broth is coming to a boil to save some time.

Prep Work: LOSS OF FINGER POSSIBLE – don’t worry about chopping the vegetables, my big problem comes with grating the lemon peel.  Yet another incident of grating the finger for me!

Ease of Recipe: THE BASICS – When I started this recipe, I thought for sure it was going to get a MORE THAN I BARGAINED FOR rating.  But the truth is, you have to boil broth, add it in small portions to sautéed vegetables and rice and let it absorb.  It is much scarier thinking about doing it than actually doing it.

OverallYUMMY – I wasn’t sure what my husband was going to think about this meal.  He loved it as much as I did!  Of course, we both felt it was necessary to eat it with a salad so as to not pile up on rice.

Recipe Information:
Time estimates are from the original publisher of the recipe, not the length of time it took me to create it.  Look for my comments below.  Nutritional Information is based on original recipe.  Any changes I make to reduce the caloric, fat, cholesterol or sodium content are not reflected in the Nutritional Information.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Nutritional Information

Honestly, I don’t think 10 minutes is enough prep time for the ingredients.  You have to chop vegetables including herbs – and small leaf herbs at that!  To actually cook the risotto will probably take about the given time.  You definitely will get 4 servings out of this recipe.  If you pair it with a large salad and bread, you will probably get even more.

As I’ve said before, I’m disappointed that this magazine refuses to list Nutritional Information on their recipes.  Before starting this post, I scanned through the comments to see if anyone had commented about it.  I was shocked at two things:
  • The lack of response from the magazine and a desire to assist people who need the nutritional information for a variety of reasons from high-blood pressure to diabetes.
  • The viciousness of people “defending” Rachael Ray like she is their best friend and attacking those that ask for nutritional information by saying they have an “eating disorder”.  There is a true lack of understanding by a lot of people that you absolutely NEED to know what you are putting in your body and how to make good choices.  Even thin people can develop diabetes or have high-blood pressure or have high cholesterol.

Changes denoted by red text

2 cups fat-free and reduced sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups arborio rice
1¼ cups drained chopped canned artichoke hearts
Grated peel of 1 lemon plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper
2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Ingredient Notes:
Chicken Broth – if you use fat-free chicken broth with reduced sodium, you’re going to completely cut out the fat and cholesterol and reduce the sodium by a third.  Of course, if you use certified organic chicken broth, the sodium content will be reduced even farther.

Arborio Rice
  • You can also look for “risotto rice”.  What makes this rice different from your regular rice is that it can hold large amounts of liquid and not get mushy. 
  • I guess now there is also brown risotto rice (which is richer in fiber and nutrients) but it isn’t as creamy as the white.  I used white, but honestly, that’s all I saw.
  • If you can’t find Arborio rice, you can use short-grain white rice or medium-grain white rice.  Keep in mind that these options can make risotto mushy.

Artichoke Hearts
  • You’ll need about 2 jars (7.5 ounces each) of artichokes to get 1¼ cups.  I only used one since I don’t like artichoke to overwhelm a dish.
  • The recipe doesn’t specify if you should buy marinated or not.  I used marinated when I made this dish.

Lemon Peel & Lemon Juice – you’ll only need juice from ½ of the lemon even though you’ll be grating the entire lemon rind.  You may want to find a use for the other ½ of the lemon because it will dry out quickly.

Parmesan Cheese – I had shredded on hand, so that is what I used.  It won’t affect the risotto at all.

Flat Leaf Parsley
  • Ordinarily, I’ll say you can substitute dried for small amounts.  This is not a small amount.  Get a bunch of fresh parsley – you’ll probably use most of it.
  • There is also a curly leaf parsley (normally right next to each other) but stick to the flat leaf since it has more flavor.
  • How do you go about chopping this herb?  You will have to pluck the leaves from the main stem because the stem is bitter.  Gather the parsley into a long line and try to roll it into a tube.  Then start making thin slice cuts.  This should give you a decent chop, but if you want, you can try to gather it into piles again and slice the other way.

Walnuts – a lot of times, it is cheaper to buy whole walnuts in bulk.  If that’s what you’ve got, toast them first and then chop them.

Equipment Needed:
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Small skillet
Wooden spoon
Saucepan with lid
Large saucepan
1-cup heat-proof measuring cup
Large spoon

Equipment Notes:
Saucepan with Lid – The saucepan should be large enough to hold 6 cups of liquid.


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