Time to (wo)man up: sweet potato risotto

Last week I began my quest to incorporate more of Alton Brown’s suggestions into my eating. Instead of planning ahead, I grabbed some pre-cubed sweet potatoes at the grocery store and figured I would decide what to do with them later. A few days of eating rice and eggs later, I checked the expiration date on the potatoes. Tomorrow. Shit. I haven’t had internet at home so I guiltily took a few minutes at work to look up recipes.

My friend Deepa suggested that I make risotto and I tried to push it out of my head—I didn’t know what went into risotto, but I was sure it wasn’t good for me. I found this recipe for Sweet Potato, Carrot, Apple, and Red Lentil Soup, and felt all virtuous and healthy. Then doubt crept in. Was I really going to make YET ANOTHER soup? And. . . would risotto really be so bad? After a few minutes of trying to talk myself out of it, I did it anyway. I found this recipe for Sweet Potato Pecan Risotto. I had most of the ingredients already. I wrote off the four tablespoons of butter with all sorts of guilty, girly excuses (but if this makes 3-4 servings, that’s only, like, 1 tablespoon per serving. And Alton Brown didn’t say not to eat it, right?) because hey, I was going to cook with sweet potatoes. I’d heard risotto could be difficult, so then I didn’t want to chicken out and just make soup again. It was time to (wo)man up.

After much frustrated searching, I found the Arborio rice for the risotto and the vegetable broth, and headed home. I decided to (predictably) leave the shallots out. Following the recipe, I heated up a can and a half of the vegetable broth and let it simmer to keep it hot. I melted the butter, added the pecans and the pre-cubed sweet potatoes. Then, it was go time. I had to add the risotto, and then add “about ¾-cup” of the hot broth, and stir it constantly until it was absorbed at the vague temperature of medium-high. Many things about this recipe were vague. In the instructions, I counted the word “about” three times. “About” is not a good word for the hesitant and perfectionist chef. So I decided not to be that girl.

I eyeballed it—poured what I thought looked like ¾ cup into the pan and started stirring. I began to worry immediately about the sweet potato-to-rice ratio. I had no idea how the rice would ever absorb the moisture of the broth, given that it was being overrun by gigantic hunks of sweet potato.

phase 1

Nevertheless, I stirred. My arm started to get tired, but I don’t do all those pushups at the gym for nothing. After a few minutes, I poured in more broth. According to the recipe, this was supposed to take 25 minutes, slowly adding the broth, stirring frequently until it’s absorbed, adding more broth, etc. etc. I had no idea how this was going to take so long. I had a feeling I was doing it wrong already.

But then the rice started to puff up a little bit, and the liquid was actually disappearing.

phase 2

I was feeling gutsy. I poured broth with abandon. A few months ago, I probably would have done the anal-retentive thing and poured the boiling-hot broth into a measuring cup, risking burns for accuracy’s sake, before pouring it in. But not now. I poured and stirred, poured and stirred, and all of a sudden, I had the creamy texture that makes risotto what it is. And most magical of all, almost exactly 25 minutes had elapsed.

phase 3

I’m not sure if it was the vegetable broth or what, but this looked nowhere near as pretty as the picture on the recipe. The vegetable broth is a reddish-brown color, not like the gold of chicken broth. I might try it with chicken broth next time, because, let’s face it, my risotto is not the best-looking thing you’ve ever seen. Probably nowhere near the best-looking thing you’ve ever seen.

phase 4 It ended up looking like very gourmet dog food. But hot damn if it wasn’t delicious and creamy. Some of the larger pieces of squash were undercooked—when I make this again, I’ll cut them up smaller. If you choose to make this, I will give you a tip. It heats up well—the leftovers are just as delicious. But it’s probably best if you don’t look at it while you eat.

6 Responses to “Time to (wo)man up: sweet potato risotto”
  1. Lindsey says:

    That doesn’t sound too bad! I get tired of sweet potato dishes about five bites in, probably because sweet potatoes are so chock full of nutrients that my system can’t process what to do with it all, but I’ll have to keep this recipe in mind! Thanks, Jill!

  2. Danielle says:

    Risotto has always scared me, as it seems to take for bloody ever to cook. But if a fellow amateur can woman up, so can I. Especially if it can truly be a kick ass one-pot dish in less than 30 minutes.

  3. Jill says:

    It really wasn’t too bad! You both can totally do it. The only thing is that it needs constant babysitting, so don’t try to multitask. Put on some good music and stir away, and maybe use vegetable broth that isn’t brown so it doesn’t look quite so nasty.

  4. keyryan says:

    Since you could make risotto I figured I could do it too. I made the sweet potato recipe I found on the Real Simple website. It called for a cup of wine and then 3.5 cups of water which left the rice nice and white. Overall it was a little bland so we added more salt, pepper and a few other spices. (The husband threw spices in recklessly, I;m not there yet in my cooking skills. As far as not multitasking went, I got bored while I stirred so I read a book over the pot.

    • Jill Kolongowski says:

      That’s GENIUS. Why didn’t I think of that? I’m sure I’ll make it again, mainly for an excuse to read. :)

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] I stirred and stirred, adding however much broth I felt like, then adding some random other ingredients—cherry tomatoes, spinach, pepper, grated parmesan, shredded parmesan—until I was all out of broth and it had been half an hour or so, which was about how long it took me to make the sweet potato risotto. […]

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