You may have seen tv shows or read recipes that portray risotto as a challenging and time-consuming dish. Well, we can get you around the challenging part and as far as time-consuming goes – do you have 30 minutes? If so, let’s do this.
Traditionally, risotto is most often made with Arborio rice – a short-grained, high-starch rice known for its creamy texture, one of the defining characteristics of risotto. To get that creaminess, stock must be added to the rice slowly and the mixture must be stirred almost constantly to help coax the starches out of the rice. And you can’t just cook the heck out of it and hope for the best. Along with that velvety sauce surrounding the rice, you want the rice itself to be slightly al dente.
Hmmm… sounds like a job for steel cut oats.
First of all – al dente? You betcha. Steel cut oats have that same “toothsome” quality that we’re looking for. And creamy? Oh, man. Do they get creamy.
Where traditional rice-based risottos depend on the natural starches from the rice for the creaminess, steel cut oats get positively velvety thanks to all of the beta-glucan fiber contained within the grain. When the oats are simmered in stock, the beta-glucan fiber absorbs the water, creating exactly the texture we want for risotto.
Our oat risotto starts out like any other, shallots and garlic are sautéed in olive oil before the oats are added and allowed to toast a little. Wine is then added and allowed to cook off before the stock is added. We keep our stock simmering and add one ladleful at a time, allowing the oats to absorb most of the liquid before adding the next.
A few stirs in-between is enough to keep things on track. Keep an eye on it, but don’t feel that you have to babysit it or stir until your arm feels ready to fall off. Just keep adding stock when it needs it and let the beta-glucan do its thing.
Once your oats are al dente and creamy and have taken in all of the stock, you can finish your risotto with the peas and parmesan and make any final adjustments to the seasoning.
And don’t forget to take a moment to pat yourself on the back for pulling off such a challenging dish.
- 1 Tbsp olive oil (15 ml)
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 small cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup steel cut oats (250 ml)
- 1 Tbsp butter (15 ml)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (125 ml)
- 5 cups low-salt chicken or vegetable stock (1250 ml)
- 1/2 cup small frozen peas, thawed (125 ml)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (125 ml)
- 2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (30 ml)
- Pinch of pepper
- Bring stock to a simmer and keep on medium-low heat while you prepare other ingredients.
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté shallot until softened, but not browned.
- Add garlic, butter and steel cut oats and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
- Add wine and cook until completely absorbed.
- Add stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring frequently, cooking until liquid is nearly absorbed before adding more. The oats should be cooked in about 25 minutes – they will be al dente and creamy.
- Remove from heat and stir in pepper, parsley, cheese and peas.
- Note: If you don’t have low-salt stock, you can dilute regular stock 1:1 with water.