Recipes · Tips and Tricks

Shortcutting Risotto

This isn’t earth-shattering, but due to a cooking mistake I learned that you can pre-make part of risotto to save yourself time, and it still comes out A-OK. I always assumed that if you made the rice ahead of time, it would turn to glue on reheating. Apparently, by under-cooking the rice just a bit, you can successfully reheat it later in a big pot with another cup or two of water or stock, and get dinner on the table faster than making risotto start-to-finish at one time. I had to do this last week because, in the middle of making this for dinner, I realized that the sausage I’d just purchased had already gone bad. Oh no!

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That night, we had no choice but to order takeout and call it a day. So I packed up the already-cooked risotto into the fridge and bought some more sausage and onions this weekend, hoping I could revive the dish.

Here’s what I did: I set the large stock pot over low, added the cold risotto with two cups of water, and slowly stirred while cooking the add-ins (in this case, a chopped red pepper and sliced chicken apple sausage). As I’ve written before, risotto is very versatile and takes to almost any ingredient. I just saute the add-ins separately in a pan with minimal, if any, oil; then they get combined with the risotto right at the end, before I shred in some cheese.

It came out just fine, and we were able to have a hearty dinner that night with plenty of leftovers for the week. I was glad that the sausage mishap didn’t mean throwing out all those other ingredients, too! There’s nothing I hate more than wasting food.

The best way to save time with risotto, in my opinion, is to pre-saute your add-ins the day before, and that way you only have to focus on cooking the rice itself the night you’re serving it. It saves you lots of prep time. You could even chop your onion the night before so it’s ready to start off the dish the next day after work. But if you have to do it the way I did, just make sure to reserve some stock or water for re-heating and season it well with salt and plenty of grated cheese so the flavor doesn’t fall flat.

What are your short-cut secrets to getting an involved dinner on the table quickly on weeknights? I’d love to know!

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