Dinner and a Netflix Movie: Peter Greenaway and Sweet-Pea Risotto

June 26, 2012 6:49 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Sweet Pea Risotto
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, Her Risotto (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

I wanted to create a feature that combined my love of dinner with my passion for not leaving the house. There is, perhaps, no greater means of empowerment for how I love than Netflix, which not only gives you film recommendations to ensure that you are planted squarely on the couch for quite some time, but gives you more recommendations for movies based on what you've already seen.

Unfortunately, food doesn't work the same way. You don't eat a meal, then have a similar one recommended to you immediately based on your selection, and how long you spent eating it, and how much you loved it. This section of our site will fix that.

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Here is our pick for a movie for tonight, and a meal to go with it.

Movie: The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover

(1989 - Dir. Peter Greenaway; Starring Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon, and Tim Roth; NC-17)

If it weren't for Peter Greenaway, there'd be no Wes Anderson. That's not to say that the latter would ever make a movie this sexy (we shudder to think about a Mr. Fox that's furrier than he is fantastic), but simply that they approach their films the way that young boys approach tinkling, little toy-boxes. But whereas Wes Anderson's parents would pat themselves on the backs at such a well-behaved, clever little boy, Peter Greenaway's would take him to a child psychiatrist immediately.

This is a movie about food-- where the act of eating a meal together is used to distract a violent crime lord (Michael Gambon) from the fact that his wife (a young Helen Mirren) is having an affair with Tim Roth in the bathroom. A beautiful score from Michael Nyman (best known for his contribution to Man on Wire) imbues the abrasive, intense film with restlessness, passion, and softness all at the same time.

Meal: Sweet Pea Risotto

I've said it before and I'll say it again: risottos are all ratios. All you have to remember is that you need one part arborio rice to four parts liquid.

Here's how I do it: I chop up a whole onion, four cloves of garlic, and a stalk of celery, and put it in a pan with olive oil and butter. I let it cook together on a low simmer for fifteen minutes. It smells heavenly.

While this is happening, I boil eight cups of chicken stock.

After the veggies are done cooking, I add two cups of arborio rice and a splash of good dry vermouth. I mix it all up until just combined and let sit on medium-heat for thirty seconds.

Next, I add the stock by the ladleful, constantly stirring for twenty-five minutes or until the rice has absorbed as much as it can take.

Turn off the heat. Add a bag of frozen peas, a cup of grated parmesan, and two tablespoons of butter. Stir. Cover the pot. Wait five minutes. Open.

Watch, learn, and eat. Enjoy your night!


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