Hack Your Own Risotto with the Democratic National Committee


Politics has never made Culturess feel so hungry. The newest document release from WikiLeaks includes the truly controversial subject of…cooking risotto.

With this week’s WikiLeaks reveal of hacked Democratic National Committee emails, risotto preparation makes its way to the national political stage. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t really get risotto the first time I tried it. Being used to rice the Chinese way it just seemed like gloppy rice that insane people raved about. Since then I’ve slowly come to understand and even enjoy the dish.

So exactly what was it that caught the media’s eye in this relatively boring treasure trove of emails? A reply from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta to Peter Huffman, a Merrill Lynch financial adviser, on the not so political topic of risotto.

Check it out:

Image via WikiLeaks

It’s a shocking and saddening expose of a catastrophic its-it’s apostrophe accident. However, most people seem thrilled that Podesta understands the classic risotto cooking technique. I say classic because I subscribe to the more modern, lazier way, the Serious Eats Food Lab way!

According to J. Kenji López-Alt, old school risotto is cooked with small amounts of liquid and near constant stirring because it doesn’t cook evenly. This is due to using a pot that doesn’t allow the risotto to spread out and be heated up evenly. López-Alt’s experimental results call for a 12-inch skillet where not only is the liquid un-heated, but you get to add almost all of it in at once.

He also debunks the idea that the stirring knocks starch off the rice grains to create the creamy sauce. This makes sense because by the time rice is soft enough to pulverize by stirring, you have mushy rice. Speaking of rice, I’ve also tried Carnaroli rice instead of the more commonly available Arborio and I agree that it is superior in texture.

Risotto wit poached egg (Image via Kalistrya)

Hack Your Own Risotto

Using the Perfect Risotto Recipe, you can hack your own version tailored to your tastes and laziness level.

  • Instead of shallots, you can add other veggies from the onion family. I sauté 2 cups of thinly sliced leeks or chopped onion to add after the rice is toasted.
  • I love mushrooms and risotto loves mushrooms, so everyone can be a happy family together in my belly. Just make sure to sauté your 8 oz of mushroom slices or chunks until they release their liquid. If you don’t, then the added liquid will mess with your liquid to rice ratio to put things on the swampy side.
  • If you’re extra lazy, you don’t even have to toast the rice. It does taste a little better that way though.
  • Cook 6 strips of bacon until crisp. Use the bacon fat to toast your rice. Set aside the crumbled bacon to add with the cheese at the end of cooking. Or if you value the crispiness, sprinkle it on top when you serve the risotto.
  • Other things that need less cooking time to keep their texture can be added at the end as well. This includes everything from chopped up asparagus or butternut squash to chunks of lobster or crab. Just cook them properly by steaming, sauteing, boiling, or even grilling, then chop into bite sized pieces before adding.
  • Poached eggs oozing yolk on top of risotto is a classic yolk porn photo. Poaching eggs requires carefulness in cooking and handling. Laziness requires substituting a soft boiled egg for a similar taste and texture sensation. The easiest recipe for this is detailed in The Bitten Word’s post on Foolproof Soft Boiled Eggs. I sometimes do this ahead of time and refrigerate the eggs, then warm them up in some hot tap water to put on top of the risotto.

Next: 10 Ways to Keep Farm Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for the Winter Months

Risotto is a great canvas for your culinary creativity and a method that cushions your laziness. Even if it’s not a political star, it can still get the top vote at your table. Put it on your election night menu!