Friday, November 16, 2012

Frugal large family meals -- Risotto

I love risotto. It is one of those items I keep in my pantry to have on hand for those days that the original plan fell apart. It's easy, has that comfort food feel about it, and it is very flexible. It's only downside is that it does require time standing at the stove and stirring, though I find doing that rather relaxing. And if I'm busy stirring the risotto, it gives me an excuse to direct and delegate all of the other dinner preparation jobs to the masses. OK, maybe it has two downsides because arborio rice can be a bit expensive, but even a four dollar box of rice is still less than a lot of things these days.

There's not even really a recipe for it. What you really need is proportions. Here is what I've pretty much figured out:  for every cup of rice you use, you will need four cups of broth and one cup of rice will feed ~4 people. (See, this is why it counts as frugal.) I usually cook 3 1/2 cups of rice and heat 14 cups of broth for 11 fairly big eaters. Once you've got that information, you're set to go. You can make it just like this, with rice and broth (chicken, beef, vegetable... you can add a splash of wine into the broth if you desire), or you can add things. A little cooked chicken with some vegetables... small shrimp (though that suddenly ejects it from the frugal category)... just vegetables... or two that we like a lot are with sausage or with tomatoes.

To make it you will need a large pan (if you have a lot of people in your family, you will need a really large pan), and you will need a pot for the broth. First heat your broth so that it is simmering by the time you need it. Chop an onion and saute this in your large pan in some olive oil. Once the onion start becoming translucent  add in your rice. Coat the rice with the olive oil and saute it for a minute or two. (If you want to use any meats that need to be cooked, such as sausage, you need to cook your meat in the pan first and remove it before beginning with the rice. You will add it back in at the end.)

Now comes the fun part. Take a cup measure and add a cup or two of liquid to your pan with the rice. It will steam quite a bit the first time, so be prepared. Over medium-high heat, stir the liquid into the rice until it is nearly all absorbed. Then add another cup of liquid and continue. Arborio (or short grained) rice can absorb about four times is size in liquid. That little bit of rice really will absorb all that broth, it just takes a little time and stirring.

During this process, you will need to determine when to add your other ingredients. If you are adding something like zucchini, you may want to add them part way through so they can cook. If you are adding already cooked items you will want to add them in time to heat them without cooking them any longer, so usually toward the end. For the tomato risotto, I add a couple of cans of diced tomatoes to the broth and they are slowly added to the rice.

Once it's done (which is when it has absorbed all of the liquid it can... the rice will be soft and creamy), you will want to serve immediately, place a serving of rice in a bowl and sprinkle grated Parmesan over the top (or Romano, if like us, you have people who can't have cow's milk). To be truly authentic, you eat it with a spoon around the edges so that the center stays warm while you are eating. I usually serve a big, green salad with this.
I have a new article up at Heart of the Matter on Homeschooling and Poetry.


One thing I wanted to share... remember those children in Bulgaria whom I've been advocating for? Well, I found out that their files were sent back. This means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.

But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten? There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.

Here's Theodore. He's 10 years old, but because of where and how he has been living is much younger developmentally. He is by all accounts a sweetheart. Please pray for him. [He does have several families interested in adopting him, but the Ministry of Justice still needs to make a decision so nothing is settled yet.]

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