Winter Comfort Food


This risotto with cabbage and ham recipe (from Cook’s Illustrated) makes a filling meal for cold nights. You dice up an onion and a small amount—2 to 4 ounces—of pancetta, deli ham, proscuitto, or cooked sausage. Heat up three tablespoons of olive oil in a big heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and sauté the onions and meat for a few minutes. Meanwhile shred half a cabbage and throw that into the pot too. Cover your pot and let the cabbage cook for about fifteen minutes (or until it is limp and beginning to brown), stirring every now and then.

When your veggies have softened, add about a teaspoon of salt and two cups of Arborio rice. Stir it up and add a cup of water along with two cups of chicken broth. (Home-made chicken stock will make this recipe drastically better.) Turn up the heat until the broth mixture starts to boil; then keep it at a simmer, stirring occasionally, for eight to ten minutes, or until the bottom of the pan seems dry when you stir the rice. Add a half a cup of dry white wine or vermouth and stir that in; when it’s absorbed, check your rice. If it’s not fully cooked, keep adding water a half a cup a time until the risotto is creamy and al dente. Meanwhile grate a half a cup of Parmesan. When the rice is done, stir in the cheese, check if it needs more salt (it will, everything’s always better with more salt), and serve hot.

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