The steam wafts up from my yellow Dutch oven as I transfer the wooden spoon from my aching right hand to my left. This only lasts a moment of course, as stirring risotto with my left hand is like steering a car with my feet—it feels wrong, lacking the accuracy of traditional hand-based steering, and I never learned how to do it well. The intoxicating smell of wine, butter, and onions in a hot pan has dispersed, and with it the last of the bottle’s contents. I look out the window to take my mind off my wrist and see a gloomy evening has descended in the wake of another rainy afternoon. Yes, this is where our heroine lets out her first long sigh. Huuuuuuuh. Why do I keep making risotto?
I know the answer: it is delicious, it is simple, and it is raining. Also, I’m enjoying a wealth of chicken stock having found a new purveyor of Gunthorp Farms chickens since the sad closing of City Provisions a few months ago. What better way to enjoy spring’s arugula, peas, or mushrooms than mixed with stock-soaked, cheese-laden rice?
Really, I do know why I’m making risotto again. I just don’t know why I keep making risotto on nights when Alex is at work, and thus bound to be delayed. Risotto, in my experience, hurries for no woman, and waits for no man.
Three ladles of stock away from the bottom of the small saucepot on the back burner, I get the text message. “Going to be late, robbery just occurred.” Cue the second, longer sigh. Huuuuuuuuuuuh.
I continue to push the tender cubes of chicken under, over, and through the grains of pearly rice. On Sunday afternoon I roasted a whole chicken with no intention of eating it that day. Just so I could save time later in the week with cooked chicken in the fridge, ready to go, and enough stock to both freeze and use. It turns out I’d’ve had enough time between getting home and waiting for Alex to do the same to cook this whole meal in one go.
But then I notice the rice has stopped absorbing liquid. A creamy sauce has formed where there has been no cheese or milk. It’s time for cheese now, though. I turn off the heat, crumble gorgonzola over the rice, the softest parts sticking to my fingers then smudging onto the grater as I move to the pecorino. There’s nothing like that moment when you fold just-melting cheese into risotto, the rice obliges with the familiar squelch of porridge. The mixture thickens and becomes gloopier as I stir; I add in chives just to keep mixing.
Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh. The third, longest sigh is one of satisfaction. What frustration can’t be fixed by a bowl risotto? It’s slow food, comfort food, and it can wait for Alex to get home. But I can’t. I fill my bowl for one and eat up.