Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Updated! Guest post by Antonia Moras: "Reasons I hate the traditional Thanksgiving" -- with risotto recipe

Update: November 24, 2017: Antonia sent a couple of changes to the risotto recipe. I've made the changes in the recipe itself, so that you have only one version of it. Most importantly, she's reduced the amount of rice to cook from two cups to one cup, and reduced some of the other ingredients proportionately. Buon Appetito!

 A guest post from my friend Antonia Moras, an accomplished writer and cook, about her Thanksgiving plans for this year [bonus recipe for Thanksgiving Risotto]. She noted that next year it will be someone else's turn -- either that or pizza. Jim and I are opting for pizza this year, and desserts with a friend.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Reasons I hate the traditional Thanksgiving

1. Shopping for days beforehand in increasingly crowded stores for ingredients and foods I otherwise never cook.

2. Too much food expected and hence, a refrigerator crowded beforehand and for days afterward. 

3. Hours and hours and hours of cooking dishes I otherwise would never prepare. Pilgrim food that I don't like, and especially don't like when it's all piled into one meal. This reason relates to (4):

4. The horrid mix of flavors.

5. Hours of clean-up after a half-hour of eating.

6. Ghastly turkey carcass.

7. Low November light levels. 

This year I offered the following terms: I'd make a turkey breast with separate drumsticks for D., who loves them. A little stuffing. A risotto as a side (can be done beforehand and reheated. It tastes even better that way as a side, I think) Asparagus: fifteen minutes. Cranberry sauce (already finished). Pumpkin and blueberry pies (half finished). White wine and lemonade for those who don't drink. Whipped creme for the pies. No turkey carcass. No sweet potatoes or yam or mashed potatoes. No salad. No appetizers or soup course. No green beans. No casserole whatever. No special rolls or biscuits. Sliced bread for those who must have it. 

I DO like using the china and silver and crystal, and I can honestly say that I loved the holiday as a kid. Mom did a marvelous job and she was always merry.

Risotto as a Thanksgiving side dish

Ingredients, serving five people as a side dish

One-quarter cup of canola oil
Three or four tablespoons chopped onions
One cup of arborio or carnaroli rice (Carnaroli is better but it can be harder to find.) 
Two beef bouillon cubes
Pinch of dried porcini mushrooms
Three or four button mushrooms, chopped
One-third cup grated Parmigiano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


Dissolve the bouillon cubes in a quart or so of water. Add the dried porcini mushrooms. Bring to a low simmer and continue to simmer throughout.

Cook the onions over low heat in the canola oil until they are almost translucent (not brown). Use a big pan with a flat, heavy bottom.

Brown the rice in the pan with the onions, for about five minutes.
Set timer for twenty minutes. Add about one third cup of the simmering broth mixture to the rice and stir until it is almost totally absorbed. Add another third cup and stir again until absorbed. Continue like this. 

After ten minutes add the button mushrooms and about a half teaspoon of salt -- maybe more. (instead of button mushrooms, you can use another chopped vegetable, like asparagus or zucchini or red bell peppers or .....) Continue to add broth and stir. If the broth mixture gets too low, just add a bit of water.

Begin tasting the rice after about twenty minutes. It should be served al dente. The grains should still be separate, not sticking together. The exact time depends on the weight of the pan and the strength of the burner. (Gas flame is best.)  

Remove from heat. Add the Parmigiano cheese and mix thoroughly. Grate black pepper over the dish, to taste. Serve warm or let cool and store in refrigerator. Reheat in a microwave. If it's going to be the main dish, it's better to serve it right away, but if it's going to be a side, letting it sit overnight works well.