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Oct 19, 2008 02:10 PM

Risotto with brown rice?

Hello All!

Is there any way to cook a good risotto with brown rice instead of the usual Aboria or Carnorali rice?

Any help provided would be greatly appreciated.


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  1. Risotto is a creamy textured preparation. I'm not sure you'll get that texture using brown rice but apparently it's not uncommon to use brown rice in a risotto recipe:

    1. I sub pearl barley for arborio all the time. Not quite the creamy consistency you get from Arborio, but still tasty and nutritionally a lot better for you.

      1. If you want to make a brown rice risotto, look for Japanese short grain brown rice. Great flavor, and unlike brown arborio rice, it will gain the creamy porridgy texture required for a true risotto. The bran on brown arborio doesn't let the starches out and you'll just end up with rice in broth. Any Asian market near you should stock the short grain brown rice. Doesn't matter if it's imported from Japan or grown in California, they both work.

        If you're just looking for a change, orzo pasta makes a surprisingly good risotto too. I'm making it with braised oxtails tomorrow.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Caroline1

          Would you share your oxtail recipe? I have some on hand and would love to hear how you do it. I was planning on using the Mario Batali recipe from Molto Italiano just to get involved in this months CoftheM, but I'm not super inspired by the recipe.
          Do you blanche them before braising (they suggest this in the book), also do you leave them bone on? Batali instructs you to take the meat off the bone before serving. This goes against my instict when it comes to ox tails.
          Enjoying this colder weather and looking forward to months of braising!

          1. re: rabaja

            These days I do most of my eating alone or with my housekeeper, who accepts my idiosyncrasies, and I'm a very tactile person... Sooo... I usually finish off braised oxtails by picking up the bones and then returning them to my plate as white and bleached as if they'd spent a decade in desert sand under a broiling sun! So obviously I don't remove the meat from the bones before serving. But when I stop to think about it, I've never served oxtails for a formal dinner.

            Recipe? Well, what I will likely do tomorrow is this:

            No. I do not wash my oxtails. But I might also add that the beef I'm using is organic grass fed from Aldersprings Ranch. The tails are already jointed and will come out of the cryovac moist and ready to roll in seasoned flour. Oh, and I NEVER remove the meat from the bone with oxtails.

            My method: Brown the floured oxtails in cooking grade olive oil or peanut oil in a dutch oven or deep frying pan, preferably cast iron coated with ceramic such as Le Creuset, but a stainless steel pan will work too. Just do not use non-stick or aluminum. Remove the oxtails to a holding dish, reduce the heat to low and add equal parts of finely diced carrots, onion, and celery (reserve leaves for later). A cup or two of the vegetables, depending on how many oxtails you have. This is the time to also add some garlic if you want that flavor too. When the vegetables are transparent, return the oxtails to the pan and add your choice of herbs and spices.

            This is the point at which the final outcome is determined. Traditional? Country? Italian? Asian? This is all determined by the spices, herbs and sauces you add now. I almost always use parsley. Then, depending on whether I want to take an ethnic turn, I often use these spices all or in part:

            Traditional: thyme and/or oregano. Beef stock. Possibly red wine and a Tbsp of tomato paste.

            Italian: oregano, fennel, basil (go lightly!), tomatoes, tomato past, red wine and/or beef stock.

            French: No garlic, lots of miapoix (the veggies above), parsley, bay leaf (or two), mushrooms, a rich red wine, a Tbsp or two of tomato paste, a dollop of cognac.

            Middle East: A light pinch of cinnamon, fresh mint and dill, a handfull of currants and pine nuts, beef broth and a touch of tomato paste. This is also good if a load of fresh green beans and a large finely chopped onion and sliced tomato (skin on) are added at the beginning and allowed to stew with the oxtails for a couple of hours.

            Indian-ish: saffron OR turmeric (go easy), corriander, cardamom, dried ginger, a really good curry powder. Depends on how far you want to go. But do keep in mind there are NO traditional Indian recipes that include beef, so this is strictly an "in the manner of" undertaking.

            Asian: anything from a hint of soy sauce to no holds barred with star anise, lemon grass, fish saice, corriander, whatever...

            For tomorrow, I plan on going the traditional route with the mirapoix, parsley, bay leaf, Burgundy wine and beef stock with a tablespoon or so of tomato paste. When the broth tastes right (I don't salt things until just before serving because you can always add more salt but it's difficult to take salt out), I will braise it at least a couple of hours. If needed, when the beef is practically "falling off the bones," I will remove the oxtails and reduce the stock if it's not think enough. Add salt to taste. Then return the oxtails and serve next to the orzo risotto, spooning the saice and soft begetables over the beef. I'll garnish the oxtails with a few celery leaves and a Micro-Planing of lemon zest just before serving, which is reminiscent of the traditional finish for osso buco.

            Whatever you decide to do, a toast to your great success and enjoy!

            1. re: Caroline1

              Love reading you!
              In your Middle Eastern variation, do you add pine nuts with initial ingredients or as texture substance after the soup has evolved or some time in between?

              1. re: kc girl

                Thank you! On the Middle Easter variations, I don't usually use the carrot and celery, but I do add the pine nuts with the onions before I've browned the oxtails. Then, when I put the oxtails in the pan I toss in the currants, fresh dill weed, fresh chopped mint, beef broth, a bit of red wine (Turkish wine is great, and Greek isn't too shabby either) and some tomato paste, then slow braise for a couple of hours. Instead of rice or orzo, I most often us bulgur.

                The other Middle Easter variation I do with oxtails is a play on a very old traditional Turkish recipe called "etli cali fasulyesi" (green bean stew with meat), except I use the oxtails instead of the traditional cubed beef or lamb. Lamb shanks would also work instead of the oxtails. First string and slice in half lengthwise two pounds of fresh green beans. I have tried it with frozen French cut green beans and they just never develop the same flavor as the fresh. Set the beans aside. Chop fine or grate a fairly large onion and sweat the onion in a couple of generous Tbsps of butter over medium heat in a dutch oven with a tight fitting lid. When the onions are transparent, remove them from the pan and brown the oxtails. Sometimes I coat them with flour first, sometimes I don't. When the oxtails are browned add about a cup of water, cover tightly and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half. They should be just reaching "tender" but not falling off the bone.. During that time, cut a large tomato in half "stem to blossom", then slice it the same direction. Do not peel the tomatoe as they cooked red strings of tomato skin add color and flavor to the finished dish. Toss the green beans with the onions to coat evenly. Put the string bean/onion mixture in the pan on top of the beef. Add salt and pepper to taste. Now spread the sliced tomatoes over the top and add another cup of water. Cover tightly and cook another 45 minutes to an hour until beans are quite done and tender and beef is tender too. My Turkish friends usually served the green bean stew with a macaroni side and some chunks of feta to much along with it is nice.

                If you have a nearby farmer's market with really good heirloom green beans and heirloom tomatoes, that's the way to fly! I wish all the idiots who have bio-egineered the flavor out of my vegetables would all grow warts on their noses!


        2. I'm letting loose my inner "hermudgeon" here: When did they pass a low that prohibits making anything (unless it's Asian) with rice unless you can call it risotto? I recall Julia Child making a rice soubise that sounded every bit as good or better. Now it seems we have to call pilaf risotto too, even if there's no rice in it! Go ahead and use the brown rice. If you don't like the consistency, stir in some dairy (yogurt, cream cheese, cream - whatever's handy) and play around until you get something yummy. End of rant ;-)

          1 Reply
          1. re: greygarious

            The OP was asking about making 'a good risotto', and mentions a couple of the usual types of rice. I take that to mean that he wants a rice dish that has the same character as one made with that rice. Brown rice, with an intact bran, won't release as much starch, and thus won't form its own sauce. Could he make a good rice dish using brown rice, and similar flavorings (including wine)? Sure. Could he add some creaminess with dairy as you suggest? Yes. But should either be called 'a good risotto'?

          2. I've really enjoyed this baked brown rice risotto - both brown, and no stovetop stirring!


            I also second melyna's barley risotto - it has such a wonderful texture, and is really tasty.