I am sucker for texture. As a low sodium cook, it is essential to trick the senses with an unusual spice or unexpected crisp. When someone is overcome by food that is exciting, they do not have the time to miss the salt. It’s like a magician distracting the audience from noticing the cards already tucked up his or her sleeve.
When it comes to noodles and rice, I also love to have a bit of broiled crunch on the top. Whether it is mac and cheese or in this case, risotto, the oven-fried pieces make the traditional “mushiness” all the more magical.
So for this particular recipe, I applied a cooking technique which I used a few Thanksgivings ago, when making individual, crusty stuffing servings for my guests: a cupcake tin. By scooping portions of risotto into each cup, you end up with the perfect risotto cakes for each of guest and everyone gets to enjoy a good amount of crispy goodness.
Or you could be like me and devour the tin by yourself, one cake at a time. However you enjoy it, these risottitos (little risottos) are a fun twist on the traditional version. The flavors aren’t half bad either. Chow on.
SERVES 12 INDIVIDUAL PORTIONS
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth (0mg of sodium)
- 3 cups oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 small white onion
- 1 large fennel bulb with fronds
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2/3 cups Arborio rice
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 orange, juice and grated peel
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese (25 mg of sodium, depending on brand)
- 4 cloves of garlic
1. Finely chop onion and garlic.
2. Wash fennel and cut off the stalk and fronds (save these and keep whole). Halve bulb and chop into 1/4 inch cubes.
3. In a small pot, bring chicken stock and water to a boil.
4. In a tall, heavy pot melt the butter and allow it to brown, 4 minutes.
5. Add onion and garlic to butter. Saute for 5 minutes or until onion is translucent.
6. Add fennel and saute for another 5 minutes.
7. Add rice and saute for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
8. Increase heat to medium and add the wine and fennel fronds. Continue to stir.
9. Once the wine has been fully absorbed, add a 1/2 cup of broth and stir. Cook until the broth has been absorbed and add another 1/2 cup. Continue this routine (pour/stir/absorb/pour some more) until all the broth has been used. Rice should be creamy, but not too mushy. So when it looks and taste right, hold off on the remainder of the broth
10. Heat oven to 380 degrees and grease your cupcake tin.
11. Stir in mushrooms, ricotta, and orange juice. The ricotta may look a little clumpy, but it will completely melt in the oven.
12. Take out full fennel fronds and scoop risotto into the cupcake tin and fill to the top. Cook for 25 minutes or until the top of each risotto cake is crisp.
13. Broil on low for 5 minutes before serving.
14. To plate, scoop out and place, crisp side on top, on a plate and add a spoonful of ricotta and some orange peel on top.