Burnt Sugar and Brown Butter Risotto with Strawberries and Mint

June 21, 2012 11:15 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Yup. (Photo: WIkimedia Commons)

Like I've said before, and like Michael Ruhlman said much more elegantly than I ever will, all of cooking boils down to just a few basic ratios. Once you learn them, you can cook anything anyway you like. The possibilities are endless; the ratios are fixed. I'd stand by the assertion that there's no food that quite proves that point like risotto. All you have to remember about cooking it is that it's 1 part arborio rice to 4 parts liquid.

The liquid can be anything; most are used to a complex, flavorful chicken stock as the backbone of a beautiful risotto entree. Here, I'm going to show you how to prepare a Burnt Sugar and Brown Butter Risotto with Strawberries and Mint. Wipe the drool off your macbook and keep reading.

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1. Heat your milk.

As this is more of a rice pudding with a great toothfeel from the just-tender rice, you'll be using a milk instead of a stock. Keep eight cups of whole milk on a low simmer, making sure it doesn't scald. If you want something extra decadent, choose goat's milk. Full disclosure: I've never tested this before, but holy moly it'll taste good. Just add a little bit of honey to it, too, to cut the richness.

2. Melt your butter/Toast your sugar and spices.

Melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter in the microwave while you toast 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of fresh cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, a pinch of allspice, and one clove over medium-high heat. Keep them moving constantly until nice and aromatic, then add the melted butter. Stir to combine and cook until the butter browns.

3. Toast your rice.

This is the part of risotto cooking that most people miss: toasting the rice. Add the rice to the sugary, buttery mix and stir it up to combine the butter evenly. Let it sit for about a minute.

4. How risotto gets its groove.

Add the simmering hot milk, one ladle at a time, and keep stirring. Once the rice has absorbed all of the hot milk, add more, one ladle at a time, constantly stirring until the rice no longer will absorb milk.

4. Add the strawberries and mint.

Here's the fun part: when you're done, add the strawberries and the fresh mint plus a half-teaspoon of salt. Stir and cover the pot. Wait five minutes. Uncover the pot and serve hot or, since it's summer, put it in the fridge and wait till it's nice and cold. Then serve.

Enjoy with a glass of prosecco, because you deserve it.


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