Super Tomato Risotto
I was thrilled when risotto won the poll last week. It’s really one of my favorite dishes. When made right, it’s creamy and flavorful. It can be paired well with a ton of dishes or just eaten on its own. It also rocks for leftovers.
For this version I wanted to use some old cherry tomatoes I had in my fridge as well as some really old tomatoes that I left sitting in the sun for 2 months. Just kidding. Just wanted to see if you were reading.
Anyway, the end result was really fantastic. I think the only thing I would change about this recipe is the quantity. If I make it again, I’m doubling it!
Super Tomato Risotto
Yield: Serves 4.
1 1/2 Cups Arborio (or Risotto) Rice
1 Cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped finely
1 Cup cherry tomatoes, halved and roasted
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 Cups chicken stock, hot. Homemade is best, and I would have probably 8 Cups ready knowing I won't use it all.
2/3 Cup dry white wine (like a Chardonnay)
2 Tablespoon heavy cream (optional)
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Basil for garnish
1) Slice cherry tomatoes in half, toss them with a bit of olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Lay them cut side up on a baking sheet and bake for about an hour at 325 degrees.
2) Pour all your chicken stock into a pot and get it to a simmer.
3) Chop your onions and mince your sun-dried tomatoes until they are a rough paste.
4) Add your butter and oil to a large pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted add the onions and cook until they are soft, about 3-4 minutes.
5) Add risotto rice to the pan and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring regularly. It'll be very dry obviously.
6) Add the sun-dried tomatoes and your white wine to the pan and stir until it's absorbed in the rice.
7) Once the white wine is absorbed, turn the heat down to medium and start laddling your hot chicken stock into the risotto about 1/2 cup at a time. Stir continuously after each laddle of chicken stock.
8) When the rice looks dry, add more stock. Keep doing this, stirring regularly, until the risotto is cooked through and creamy. It'll probably take about 35-40 minutes until the rice is nice and cooked. It should still have a small bite to it, but not be hard at all.
9) Once the risotto is the right consistency, add the cream, the oven-roasted tomatoes, and taste for salt and pepper.
10) Serve immediately and garnish with chopped basil and Parmesan cheese.
Roasting the Tomatoes
I really wanted to have tons of tomato flavor in my risotto which is why I decided to use two different kinds.
This is my preferred method of roasting tomatoes. It works like a charm. Chop your cherry tomatoes in half and toss them with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt (this is in addition to the olive oil in the recipe). Then lay them cut side up on a baking sheet like so…
Stick these in a 325 degree oven for about an hour and you’ll be left with these delicious little roasted things. You might think an hour is too long, but there’s a ton of water in tomatoes and it takes awhile to evaporate. Just check on them ever 15 minutes or so to make sure they aren’t burning.
They should have some moisture in them, but they’ll be dry and wrinkled around the edges. Like this:
These are pretty hands-off which is good because the rest of the meal is very hands on. I suggest roasting them while you are doing other stuff obviously unless you want to turn this meal into a 2-3 hour production.
Prepping Your Ingredients
I’ve always really enjoyed making risotto. There’s something very calming about it to me. Slowly stirring as this very hard thing turns into something creamy. It’s damn near magical people.
And while it does take some work, I wouldn’t exactly classify it as hard.
To prep for the risotto making, you need to do two things:
1) Pour all your chicken stock in a large pot and get it simmering. It has to be hot when you add it to your risotto later.
2) Take care of all your chopping before you get started. That means mince your garlic, chop your onion, and mince all your sun-dried tomatoes.
If you’ve never chopped sun-dried tomatoes before, they can be a bit hard to handle. I usually just go kamikaze on them until I get them into the desired size, which for this recipe is a very rough pesto-like paste.
Cooking the Risotto
The thing to remember about risotto is just to take your time. If you rush it, it just won’t turn out as good. It’s the Italian way you see to spend time making good food.
Start with a heavy pot (I use a cast iron enameled pot, but any large heavy pot will work). Put it over medium high heat and add your butter and oil. Once the butter is melted, add your onions to the pot. Let them cook down for a few minutes (you don’t even want them browned). Then add your garlic and cook for another thirty seconds or so.
Next, add all your risotto rice. It might seem odd to add the rice to an essentially dry, hot pan, but it’s what you want to do. Heating the rice will open it up some and allow it to soak up moisture better and faster.
At this point, you should have something like this:
Let the rice cook with oil, butter, garlic, and onions for no longer than a minute. Stir it constantly during this time so the rice doesn’t stick to the pan.
Next, add all your sun-dried tomatoes and your white wine. This will cause some serious hissing. Use the white wine to scrap up any little bits that are on the pan and keep stirring!
The Waiting Begins
At this point your rice is ready to start adding your hot chicken stock. It helps if you have your chicken stock heating in a pot right next to the pan with your risotto in it. Add your first ladle of hot stock to the risotto once all the white wine is almost evaporated. That’ll be about 30 seconds after you add it. Not long at all.
I used a ladle that I think had about a 3/4 Cup capacity so if you don’t have a good ladle, you can definitely just use a measuring cup to add in your chicken stock.
Once you add the stock to the rice, stir slowly. When the rice starts to get dry, add another ladle! Keep stirring!
As you can imagine, your first ladle of stock will be absorbed almost instantly. Your second ladle will take a minute or two. By your third or fourth ladle, it should start being 5-6 minutes in between ladles.
Keep stirring but you don’t need to stir vigorously. You aren’t whipping egg whites or anything. Just keep it moving.
Cheater’s Note: You don’t actually have to stir continuously once you get the hang of it. You can take a break for a minute or two to drink your wine which, according to the country of Italy, is the only acceptable reason to stop stirring risotto.
After about 25-30 minutes of this, you should be about half-way home.
The only thing to really remember about this is to not add your stock too fast, but don’t let the rice burn. Right when it’s starting to look a bit dry, add more stock.
Taste the risotto regularly to test the texture. The final product should have a very tiny bite to it. You don’t want it mushy. But you also don’t want it crunchy. I’ve found that my risotto is about perfect after 40-45 minutes or so of cooking. It seems like a long time, but it’s really not that bad.
Warning: I always recommend heating up more chicken stock then you’ll need just in case. It sucks to run out and have to switch to lukewarm water to finish your risotto.
Finishing the Risotto
When the risotto is at the perfect consistency and you aren’t planning on adding in any more stock, stir in a tiny amount of cream if you want along with the Parmesan cheese and all of your roasted tomatoes.
Also, taste for salt and pepper at this point and adjust. I don’t like to add salt before this because normally chicken stock is pretty salty.
Serve this as quick as you can! Basil as a garnish is a great touch.
According to Betsy, this was one of the better risottos I’ve made. It was really creamy and the tomato flavor was very intense, but in a good way.
Like I said, if I made this again the only thing I’d change is that I’d double this bad boy!