Risotto is for lazy people too! With fava beans and lemon.

I used to be terrified of risotto. Isn’t it for people who can stir a pot for 30 minutes? My arm feels dead and numb if it has to stir for longer than 3. But then I read Made in Italy by Giorgio Locatelli. The guy is nuts about risotto. His introduction to it is a chapter in itself. And do you know what he says? He says that the key to a good risotto lies in finishing it with a good “mantecura“; a final  beating with  butter and parmesan. That’s all.  I find that the mantecura means that you don’t have to slave over a hot stove (unless you like that kind of thing of course). You’ll need to practise a bit to get a feel for making it, but once you’ve got the hang of it risotto is one of the easiest things.

These days I’ve been getting home well after the supermarket closes and so  I’ve been making my risotto with frozen fava beans, but you could just as well use frozen peas. Either way, a squeeze of lemon juice at the end really brightens this up.

Fava bean and lemon risotto

Serves 1

Butter: 30 gm

Shallot: 1, or a quarter of a small onion

Risotto Rice: 50 gm

Wine: A splash, about 30 ml.

Stock: 1 cup

Frozen fava beans or peas: 70 gms (a generous handful)

Lemon juice: a squeeze, about 1 tbsp.

Parmesan: 2-3 heaped tablespoons

Chop the shallot finely and heat the stock, keep it warm while cooking the rice. Melt half the butter in a small pan, I use an 8 inch non stick frying pan. Sweat the shallot in the butter over a medium low heat till translucent (do not brown). Add the rice to the pan and turn up the heat to medium, toast for a minute while stirring so that all the grains are well coated in butter. Add a splash of wine and cook till evaporated, then add a quarter cup of stock. The liquid should bubble at a lively simmer so you may need to turn the heat up a little. When the stock has all been absorbed, add another quarter cup. Each time you add the stock you should give the rice a good stir, but I find that there’s no need to stir continuously. Your rice package should tell you how many minutes of cooking your risotto will need (from adding the stock), and your fava or peas’  should tell you how many minutes of cooking they will need too. So do the math and throw in your veggies at the right time. Keep adding stock bit by bit, supervising the last few minutes carefully – it’s easy to add too much stock at the end and ending up with soup.

When the rice is cooked to your liking take it off the heat,  there should still be a little liquid in the pan. Squeeze in the lemon, season and taste. If you’ve added a little too much lemon, then some extra cheese will help to balance it out. Dice the butter (it should be cold), add the cubes to the rice then grate and sprinkle over the parmesan. Allow to stand for a moment then beat the hell out of it with a wooden spoon, shaking the pan as you beat. The idea is to work as much starch out of the rice as you can. Eat immediately (I say this because I hope you’ll understand why I forgot to take a photo).

5 Responses to “Risotto is for lazy people too! With fava beans and lemon.”
  1. Maddie says:

    Ah, it’s always so nice to find a cooking method that eliminates the masochism in an otherwise fabulous dish! 🙂

    And I like your suggestion about adding a squeeze of lemon at the end of this risotto! Reminds me of what Ina Garten talks about in her latest cookbook…that so much of the deliciousness in a dish comes from “finishing touches,” those last-minute punches of flavor.

  2. Melissa says:

    I would love to attest to the tastiness of this recipe. And though I only looked on as you did NOT slave over the pot, it did seem completely doable for the cooking impaired!

  3. Como Solo says:

    Thanks Maddie! I completely agree with Ina Garten on the finishing touches, In India we have a concept called “tarka”. It’s the last step in many curries and is simply a final seasoning with a few spices that have been heated up in a little oil. It really makes a difference!

    Mels, that was such a great weekend, I miss you girls so much! When are you going to write me a guest post on the inimitable microwaved potato???

  4. Well, this is really valuable information. Thank you. I just thought I had to stir the entire time and have never tried it any other way… Love the last photograph.

    • Como Solo says:

      Hi Denise, it’s a great trick! You do have to try it out a few times to get the hang of it, and really beat the crap out of it at the end but it works well enough for me. Also, what I forgot to put in the post was that I usually put some grated rind in at the end, but getting untreated lemons has been a pain lately. Thanks for the compliment!

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