Photos by JODY AREMBAND / THE EAGLE
It’s time for a kitchen upgrade, y’all! No, I’m not Paula Deen, but I am done with the stereotypical college diet of ramen noodles and pizza.
TDR may have gotten a facelift, but sometimes (more often than not) it still doesn’t cut it. Essentially, this column will be a guide to cooking for the AU student who wants to eat like a real adult. Rather than giving you all recipes — that’s what the Internet is for—I’ll talk about some of the basic skills that are the foundation of all good cooking.
So, what’s for dinner?
I don’t know about you, but I am in the mood for something Italian. Risotto, which may seem like a complicated dish, is actually very easy to make and can really last if you make a big portion.
Step 1: Start with the rice
The most ideal kind of rice to cook with is short-grain rice, because it can hold a lot of liquid. The best kinds to choose from are carnaroli, arborio, baldo and vialone nano. It doesn’t need to be rinsed for this dish, so just put it in the pot. Remember to take into account that rice triples in size.
Now for the most important rule in cooking: taste whatever you’re cooking throughout the process. You can’t really do this with baked goods, but here it’s essential to figure out when the rice is done.
Step 2: Add stock
Any kind you want to use is fine. Most people use chicken or vegetable stock, but I personally think it doesn’t make a huge difference with the flavor. To make the risotto, cook the rice on medium-high heat, stirring often and continually adding stock. It’s a bit of a wait to get the right consistency, but you’ll appreciate the upgrade from the mac and cheese. Trust me.
Step 3: Adding your flavors
Once the rice has almost fully plumped up from absorbing the stock, you’re ready to start adding your flavors, like cheese and some vegetables. There are some classic flavors like asparagus and mushroom, but one of the great things about risotto is that it pairs well with almost any type of seasoning.
My personal favorite is tomato and mushroom with parmesan cheese. Dice the tomato, thinly slice the mushrooms and stir them in when you’re almost done so the flavors can fully absorb. Note on the mushrooms: make sure you wash them really well. It seems like a no-brainer, but if you don’t scrub them, they will make the whole dish taste like dirt.
Step 4: Stir in the cheese!
We add the cheese last so it can fully melt into the risotto without sticking to the pot and never making it to the plate.
Make sure you share with your roommates!