“Emergency Risotto” from “Midnight Chicken”

The following paragraph has four facts that will date me terribly. I don’t care.

The first time I made risotto, I was a newlywed trying to impress my husband in our two-bedroom Chicago apartment. I found the recipe I wanted to make by reading on paper* the Chicago Tribune’s Food section, which I duly saved.* The recipe was for “Bill Clinton*’s Favourite White House Risotto.” I had to go to Treasure Island, our local supermarket* that was known for having more unusual ingredients, in this case, arborio rice, which I had never used before. We ate it, we loved it, and we’ve been making it ever since.

  • Fact One: Who reads a newspaper on paper anymore? In this house, it’s a special occasion reserved for the weekends.
  • Fact Two: I cut the recipe out and then saved it on a laminated sheet in a photo album so I could make it again. Who does that now? It’s such a sweet memory it makes my heart swell with nostalgia.
  • Fact Three: Ah, the Bill Clinton years. This was in the halcyon early years, pre-Monica Lewinsky scandal and impeachment hearings. For those of you in the back not paying attention, he was U.S. President in the last century, from 1993 to 2001.
  • Fact Four: Remember the bad old days when a recipe called for an ingredient you had never heard of and then you had to go on an actual hunt in actual stores for it? I think we don’t give Google/the Internet the credit it deserves for making our life so much easier.

So yes. I’m old. Or at least middle aged. (I read once on a throw pillow that you’re only as old as you feel. If that’s the case, I feel like I’m in my early 30s.)

But back to risotto. We love it. I’ve tried probably thousands of variations over the years. Once you know the drill– fry onions, fry the rice, add wine, slowly add stock, finish with whatever fun stuff you want– it’s a dinner that can get done in 20 minutes. Ella, similarly, extolls the beauty of a great risotto and gives tips on good ones to make depending on the season.

I took her advice to heart and did a prawn and pea risotto. It wasn’t in the guidelines she printed, but I thought she would approve. Was this recipe good? It was. It was a bit heavy on the garlic for our taste, but that’s a minor quibble.

Risotto, always, for the win. Even those that were printed last century.

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“Emergency Risotto” from “Midnight Chicken”

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