I needed a side dish for pulled pork the other night, so I went prowling through my pantry for potential treasures. I wanted to make rice, but I only had sushi rice and Arborio, which is commonly used for risotto. I had plenty of time and six people to impress if I pulled it off, so I figured it was worth a shot. However, shortly after committing to this risotto plan I realized I only had 3 cups of chicken broth. My solution was to supplement with coconut milk and water, and I was quite pleased with the result. A splash of fresh lime at the end makes for a bright, creamy, and surprisingly easy dish that I can’t wait to make again.
2 cups Arborio rice
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
½ cup gold rum
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
¼ lime, juiced
Combine the coconut milk, water, and chicken broth in a medium saucepan or stockpot. Cover and heat gently-this is the cooking liquid you add to the risotto, so you want it to incorporate well.
Once the cooking liquid is warm, add 2 tbsp. olive oil to a sauté pan or high-sided skillet. Heat over medium heat, and then add the rice, stirring immediately to cover with oil. Stir until rice is slightly toasted and turns a pale golden color. Immediately add all of the rum, and stir until completely absorbed (the stirring part doesn’t end, so get used to it).
When the alcohol is absorbed, add about ½ cup of cooking liquid to the pan, stirring constantly. I like to use a small plastic ladle, since it makes for easy transfer from pan to pan. Continue stirring until the liquid is almost completely absorbed (the rice shouldn’t dry out, but shouldn’t have the slightest soupiness either) and then add another ½ cup of liquid. The liquid should boil every time it hits the pan, but stop when you start stirring it into the rice. Use that to guide your temperature. Liquid, stir, repeat. Go.
Saucy Note: Risotto is laborious and time-consuming, so only make it if you have the time and attention span. Keep a close eye on the rice, since dry spots can start to form if your mixing technique is not thorough. If that happens, add more liquid and breaking and folding the dry section into other, moister parts. It also will take forever to cook if your heat is too low, but too much heat evaporates the liquid before it has a chance to absorb. You have to know your stove and equipment well to achieve good results.
After about 20 minutes of adding liquid and constantly stirring, the risotto should be breaking down and getting creamy. Continue adding liquid and stirring until the rice is completely tender, 10-15 minutes more. The best way to test risotto is to try a piece of rice-if its chewy, crunchy, or anything besides soft and creamy, its not done. You also should not stop until all your cooking liquid is gone, as the added moisture will only improve it.
When the risotto is creamy and cooked-through, remove rice from heat and add the butter and lime juice. Salt to taste, and serve immediately.