Bad-assery and petty crime: risotto without a recipe
I had a grand plan for this weekend. At work, I’ve started my summer schedule, which means I get to leave the office at 12:30 on Friday afternoons. Instead of being the 24-year-old that I am and going out for debauchery and bad decisions, I’ve started making big dinners for myself on Friday nights. It might be just a little bit sad and it might mean that I’m going to start going gray and should start adopting cats any day now; but it makes me feel sane at the end of the week to put ingredients on the stove and end up with something to fill me up.
The problem is, I can also be a lazy motherfucker. So all my grand plans went out the window as soon as I decided I’d rather be standing in the rain watching half-naked drag queens dance to Lady Gaga. Happy Pride, everyone! When the parade was over, covered in confetti and rainbow beads, I celebrated equality with a burrito the size of my arm at Qdoba. My inner voice, the one that tells me I shouldn’t do shots or that I should turn off Dexter and go to bed, was telling me that I’d run out of time to get ingredients for my big dinner. But I shut that down and proceeded to have an excellent weekend of burritos and Indian food and boozing and a beach walk and a friend’s birthday.
Which brings us to Sunday night. Instead of eating like a normal person, I had two breakfasts instead of a breakfast and a lunch. After getting to the gym later than I’d planned, it was suddenly seven o’clock and I had nothing to cook. I was out of groceries. There was no cereal or yogurt to save me. Instead of doing the sensible thing and ordering pizza, I was determined to use some of the things that had been sitting in my cabinet. All that left was risotto—the real kind, the takes-thirty-minutes-of-nonstop-stirring kind.
As I read the instructions for Quick and Easy Risotto on the side of the Arborio rice box, I realized that I didn’t have enough broth and that I didn’t know how many ounces were in a pound. The recipe said I should use a pound of rice. But the box of rice was 17.6 ounces. I’d already used some of it so I was completely lost. Not only that, but the right amount of broth is key for risotto to work, and the recipe called for a 46-ounce can of broth. When I’d first read the recipe for Quick And Easy Risotto, I was like hey, note to self, this is going to be quick and easy. Just get yourself a can of broth and you’re SET.
Do they even make 46-ounce cans of broth? My normal-sized can was only 14.5 ounces. Apparently I should’ve gone shopping at Sam’s Club for my stupid Not That Quick And Not That Easy Risotto. I stood dejectedly at the stove and tried to do math with the partial bag of rice and my tiny can of broth. I’d already chopped up the garlic and opened the can. My roommate asked me what I was going to do, and all I had the heart to say was, “I’m so hungry.” I reread the recipe, trying to figure out what to do. The recipe was convoluted; it only mentioned that the broth should be warmed halfway through the recipe, rather than telling you to set it on the stove to heat at the beginning. It gave no cooking times.
But I was fucking hungry. I decided to go for it. I never go for it when it comes to cooking. I follow all directions. I double- and triple-check the measurements. I use a knife to level the ingredients in their measuring cups. I use the exact baking time and not a second longer. So I set the broth on the stove to heat, cooked the garlic in a little olive oil, added the rice, and threw the recipe away.
After a few minutes of adrenaline from feeling like a real chef (look mom, no recipe!), I ran out of broth. I tasted the rice, and it was still crunchy. Since I was already in the realm of bad-assery and I wanted to avoid full-on hunger-tantrum mode, I decided to head straight into a life of crime: I stole some of my other roommate’s broth. I was straight up not going to the store to pay for that shit.
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.
And what do you know—it turned out perfectly. Don’t let anyone tell you procrastination doesn’t pay off. Look out, ladies and gents: I may have finally learned how to cook.