There are any number of reasons to make a full-fledged risotto, even when you will be dining alone. These include, as I have mentioned before, anticipated leftovers in the form of croquettes and pancakes. Personally, I love a Risotto Milanese, but I do understand where Deborah Madison is coming from when she says that most risottos on their own, just do not quite make a complete meal. That is, unless they are loaded with say, shellfish and so on, which is really not my favorite thing to do. Still, there is a little bit of fiddling involved in the simplest risotto, and it all happens right before serving, so whatever you have alongside should not need last minute pyrotechnics.
When you are doing a full company kind of meal, a classic Osso Buco is the perfect, and time-honored partner. It is delicious, complex but straightforward, and the whole thing can be ready before you ladle the first broth over the rice. But I'm not going to want this extra-hearty traditional combo for an ordinary dine-alone supper. The risotto is the main attraction here, taking more than enough attention on a Sunday evening-I just need something simple to go with it.
Either of two alternate matches are available, because I made a big pot of Arlette's pea soup this weekend, to take for lunches this week, and some extra beef broth for the risotto alongside. So, I've got a few extremely boiled veg and a couple of pieces of more-or-less cooked to death beef shank on hand. I can either make a simple mironton, and stick it in the oven when I start the rice, or cut up the beef and veg, toss them in oil and vinegar, and set them on a plate of arugula, or baby greens in the fridge to pull out when ready.
I'm doing the latter today, because it's easiest. I think this goes well with the Risotto-I've done it before. A lot of pickier eaters think these broth byproducts are not worth eating, being so cooked-out, but I am not one of those people. Both beef and veg do need a little vinegar to spark them up, though. And either the mironton or the salad will provide some. A few capers are not amiss either.Somehow a plain big green salad would not seem quite enough extra-for me anyway.
In case you don't already have your own method, here's how I make Risotto Milanese. This is sufficient for one person's main course- with ample leftovers. It is enough for two who will eat it all at once, but it is better to be greedy, don't you think? I'd make up to 3 times this much in one pot, for 3 people and their leftovers. I no longer have any idea if I'm way off the classic recipe- I have a feeling the peas don't belong?But I do like them in, so never mind.
You need a cup of arborio or other suitable risotto rice, a quart of good beef stock, butter, salt, pepper , 1/4 tsp saffron, smashed in a mortar and pestle or the like, 1/4 cup of dry white wine (or fennel ratafia made with dry white wine-which I just happened to have), a small chopped red onion, 1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, a handful of fresh or frozen peas, and salt and pepper.
Heat some butter in a heavy saucepan of a size suitable to the quantities you are making. Meanwhile, heat the beef broth to a simmer, and keep it going. Add a little broth to the saffron in the mortar and stir, then pour the mixture back into the broth. Add the onion to the butter, and cook until just transparent. Add the rice and stir with a flat wooden spatula or a similarly shaped silicon one-no metal, no spoons. Stir until it starts to go white, then add the wine. Set timer for 12 minutes. Over a healthy heat, stir until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Now add a ladle of broth, and keep pushing the rice around the pan, until it is just wet. Add a ladle of broth at a time.
You are to use up all the broth this way. When the timer goes off, add the cheese, peas, and a bit more butter and continue. Probably all the broth will be used up in 6 more minutes. Cover the pan, and let it sit 7 to 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled, if you like, with parsley. And with a little something else, as per our early discussion. After supper I'm going to have a small glass of plum ratafia for dessert. It turned out very well, and I will tell you about that more later.
Tomorrow you can have some cute croquettes over steamed, very thinly sliced root vegetables in lime and butter, with a wedge of lime. Or a pancake . Or stuff some peppers with the leftovers. That's what I'll do next time.