Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Slow Cooker Risotto for Babies, Toddlers and Adults

It may have been a few days since I've posted but don't think I've not been busy!


I've been meaning to cook risotto for my son since he was on soft lumps but had never got round to it.  I tried risi e bisi which was nice but lacked some creaminess.  Part of it is all that standing and stirring; completely impractical for a toddler.  Anyway, I'd heard it was possible to cook risotto in a slow cooker and seeing as I have a kitchen crush for mine, I thought I'd give it a go (but I might need a new slow cooker for Christmas Santa.... hint, hint.)

Anyway, the results were good.  A little too soft on the rice; I'm sure you can see from the photo it's overcooked but it was so almost there.  I'm definitely doing it again.  If you think about it, the timings would work out pretty well for a meal to prepare while you're doing bedtime too.  I'd heat up the stock before bath then just stick the rice in just as I'm going upstairs to do milk and story time and by the time I'm back downstairs, there's the chance to whip up a salad and do some washing up and it would be ready.  Genius!

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash for Babies, Toddlers and Adults.  Suitable for babies from the soft lump stage onwards and sticky so baby led weaners would like it too.  Makes plenty enough for one adult and one toddler.

Ingredients

300-350ml hot stock - see below tips on how to make your own or use a very low salt stock cube if you must (but read on)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 onion, chopped finely
1 dsp approx of olive oil
200g butternut squash (peeled weight), chopped into a fine dice
100g arborio rice
35g parmesan, grana padano or vintage cheddar (if vegetarian)

Method

Update:  I have corrected the cooking time below and reduced the stock quantity because on cooking it again and not wanting to overcook it, I found it was a little wet.  There are some tips on saving it though further down.

Gently fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil until softened.  Add the stock, onion, garlic and butternut squash into the slow cooker and heat on high for approx 30 mins until simmering.

Add in the rice and cook for 25-30 mins, stirring once or until the rice is cooked but still has a small amount of resistance without being chalky.  Add more stock or water during the cooking time if it needs it.

Add in the cheese and stir.

Serve in bowls topped with parsley if liked.  You could change it up a bit with different vegetables or shredded cooked chicken etc.

If the risotto is a bit too wet, scoop it out using a slotted spoon, add a little extra cheese to each bowl and season (for adults only).

Yum!


Anyway, my comments on stock.  I do think chicken stock works best here and home made chicken stock especially.  This is because gelatine cooks out into the liquid which is part of the mouthfeel of a good risotto or a good chicken soup.  This cannot be replicated by stock cubes and unfortunately not by vegetable stock either.  That said, a good home made vegetable stock will still be better than a stock cube for this.

Regular readers will now I'm not a person who is afraid of a stock cube or two either but a risotto is a celebration of stock, so it's worth the effort.

Incidentally, if you have a slow cooker, and presumably you have if you've read this far, you can make stock in one very easily.  I just took a load of bones from chicken thighs after making the vietnamese chicken salad and wing tips from chicken wings, bunged them in the slow cooker with some boiling water and simmered for approx 3 hours.  Sieve.  Minimal effort from me and made from things which would have gone in the bin anyway.

If you like this recipe, give my risi e bisi recipe a go.  Similar to risotto but much less effort.

On a different subject, I'm pretty excited, my blog has been chosen to be part of a blog carnival!  This is something new to me as an inexperienced blogger!  Yay!

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