Monday, February 9, 2009


Being sick might be my least favorite thing. I think it's right up there with not being able to sleep, although when the two go hand-in-hand, it's infinitely worse. In case you couldn't tell, I've had a cold for a while.

But before I started feeling so awful, I made something great. Something rich and creamy and filling. And it wasn't even dessert. It was risotto.

Risotto is made with arborio rice, rather than just regular rice, which is what gives it its creamy, soft texture. Combined with cheese and vegetables, it's the perfect winter comfort food. But what's really amazing about risotto is the leftovers. Or, more precisely, what you can do with them.

Risotto cakes. Risotto fritters? I don't know what to call them, but they're delicious. Crispy and browned on the outside, soft on the inside. They're not the most beautiful things in the world--the cakes don't stay together particularly well--but once you take a bite, you'll forget all about the haphazard presentation. They don't even really deserve the term "leftovers." I might even love them more than the original risotto itself.

Whatever you call them, whichever you prefer, make this recipe. It won't disappoint.

Mushroom, Asparagus and Artichoke Heart Risotto Cakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

5 cups vegetable broth (40 fl oz)
1 cup water
1 pound thin to medium asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices, leaving tips 1 1/2 inches long
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, stems discarded and caps cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 small jar artichoke hearts
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 oz)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup, though I used half)

Olive oil, for the cakes

Bring broth and water to a boil in a 4-quart pot. Add asparagus and cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer asparagus with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking, then drain and pat dry. Keep broth at a bare simmer, covered.

Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saute mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a bowl.

Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Ladle in 1 cup simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring, until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until rice is just tender and looks creamy, 18 to 20 minutes. (Save leftover broth for thinning.)

Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese, remaining tablespoon butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir in asparagus, artichokes and mushrooms, then cover pan and let stand 1 minute. If desired, thin risotto with some of remaining broth. Serve immediately with remaining cheese on the side.

Now, you can stop here for the risotto. Or you can eat half the risotto now, and save some for later. Whatever your decision, here are the instructions for the risotto cakes:

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Once heated, use a 1/4 cup measure to put the risotto in the skillet, keeping it as much of a "cake" shape as possible. Let it brown for several minutes, until crispy on the bottom. Flip it over, and brown for another few minutes.

If your cake falls apart a little, don't worry. It's still going to taste just as good.


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Anonymous said...

Personally, I like risotto for dessert:) This sounds like a good one, too!

Sara said...

I love risotto, but I think I'd like it even better as fritters! This sounds great.