Many a cheftestant on the currently popular cooking based reality TV shows have seen risotto be their undoing and I am certainly not claiming this is authentic risotto (hence the convenient quotation marks in the title). I shudder to think what Gordon Ramsay would say about this dish but I had a boatload of rice and beans from Enchilada Night that needed saving and this little trick made it palatable. As I mentioned previously the rice and beans I made to go with our Enchiladas the other night were a flop. Somehow I managed to both burn and undercook the rice. For an ingredient that needs to only be put in water and boiled, I have a lot of trouble getting rice right.
The rice and beans recipe I used called for 2 cups of uncooked instant rice. Since I only have regular rice I used that and never questioned whether the yield might be different for instant and regular rice. Well, what was supposed to be 4 servings of a cup each (4 cups total) turned into 8 cups of rice and beans. Even though I had double checked the rice to water ratio on my sack of rice the recipe managed to throw me off (because apparently instant rice needs less water to cook) and I started with too little water. My mistake didn’t dawn on me until much later, so not wanting to make the rice soggy, I kept adding water in half cup increments, and I never got enough water in the pan. So, what was supposed to be a simple side of rice, salsa, taco seasoning, and beans turned into a big undercooked, under seasoned mess of rice.
So here is how I “saved” my rice and beans and made it into a reasonable facsimile of risotto. Yes, again I realize that many a reality show chef’s downfall has been attempting to “save” rice (instead of just tossing it out and starting over) but my home is not a five star restaurant and I refuse to throw out perfectly good food just because it’s a little too al dente (especially when I’ve spent a good 20 minutes making it whilst trying to swat keep a curious toddler away from the hot stove). Authentic risotto is of course a beautiful creamy rice dish that looks much more decadent than it actually is. You would think the rice is cooked in cream to create that lovely sauce but it’s actually cooked with water or broth that’s added in small increments in a labor intensive process. I have only used this remedy for single servings of rice using a microwave so I’m not sure if it would work with a whole pan of rice (feel free to try it at your own risk and report back to me). If your rice is either overcooked or burned to a crisp, I wouldn’t try this method with it. But if it’s just a little undercooked or if you have leftover takeout rice, that always seems to dry out in those cardboard containers, this might be a nice way to revive it.
Rescue Remedy “Risotto”
- Combine (under)cooked rice and water (or stock) in a 2:1 ratio in a microwave safe bowl (either half cup or one cup). (i.e. 1 cup rice, ½ cup water)
- Heat uncovered in microwave for 1-1.5 minutes. Stir. Repeat one or two more times, checking that the rice doesn’t overcook or dry out because you do not want all the water to get absorbed. When done the rice will be creamy with a “sauce” made from residual water and starches released by the rice. Be careful, the dish and rice will be extremely hot as it comes out of the microwave.
- If using plain rice, you can add your favorite fixins’ like sautéed diced mushrooms and onions, grated parmesan, fresh herbs, peas, etc. Because my rice was already seasoned with salsa and taco spices and had beans mixed in, I stirred in a spoonful of plain yogurt, some cilantro and diced jalapenos for a yummy spicy side dish.