Magic Risotto 1.04 Deer Hunters
“I mean you know about this risotto. I mean on my mother’s deathbed -” “You made the risotto and she lived three more years.” “She was supposed to be dead. The doctor said she wouldn’t make it through the night.” “And she lived because of the risotto - the magic risotto.”
4 tbsp butter
½ yellow onion diced
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 ½ cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
3-4 cups chicken broth
¾ cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated plus more for serving
15-20 fresh sage leaves
Melt 2 of the tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the onion and garlic. Sauté for about 4 minutes or until translucent and fragrant. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the arborio rice and be sure to coat in the melted butter. Sauté for another minute to toast the rice.
Carefully pour in the wine and cook until the rice absorbs all the liquid. Don’t stir!
This step is the tricky part of making risotto, only because it varies by batch. Add a cup of the chicken broth to the rice about every 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. After 3 cups and about 30 minutes, you’ll need to taste to see if the rice is done. You might need to add more chicken stock, but add a little at a time up to a fourth cup, but you might not use the full amount of the final cup. You’ll know the risotto is done when the rice is al dente (or slightly chewy) but creamy.
When you add the last of the chicken stock, stir in the cheese until melted, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
While the rice cooks, melt the remaining butter in another skillet. Add the sage leaves to the melted butter and allow to crisp up. This will only take about 10-15 seconds. You’ll know the leaves are done when they lay still in the butter. Remove the fried sage leaves from the butter and pat dry.
Serve your risotto with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a few of the crispy sage leaves.
Prep Time: 10 minutes I Cooking Time: 45 minutes I Makes 4 servings
This is the dish that most Gilmore Girls fans think of when they think of Sookie St. James, at least it is for me. One of my favorite Sookie scenes is when she shows up at the food critic’s house to make him taste the risotto again with the right wine, but she can’t turn around to look at him. So the risotto we’re making today is not just any risotto, it has to be magic risotto. This risotto gave Sookie’s mother three more years when she was on her deathbed. I think people are afraid to make risotto because there is a little bit of guesswork involved, but I think that’s what makes it a fun challenge!
After you add the wine, and the rice absorbs all the liquid, you need to add the chicken broth cup by cup. The amount of chicken broth will vary between 3-4 cups, and you will need to add the last cup a little at a time based on the taste of the rice, but when you get it right, it’ll be rich and creamy. What makes this risotto magic, you ask? A couple of special features, that’s what! For starters, you want to get the wine right. Normally, I’m not a snob when it comes to ingredients, but since this is a magic risotto, we want to take it to the next level. I picked out a chardonnay from Columbia Crest. I was first introduced to Columbia Crest on a trip to Portland a couple summers ago with my best friend. Columbia Crest is a Washington winery, but we grabbed a nightcap at our hotel one night and tried their cabernet sauvignon, and it quickly became our favorite cab. When I found their chardonnay at the grocery store, I knew that would be the right wine for this risotto.
You can use any dry white wine, but this particular chardonnay was perfect. It has a fruity aroma with buttery and creamy notes which compliments the risotto well. Columbia Crest is not an expensive wine either, so if you aren’t wanting to break the bank, this is a great option. The alcohol cooks down in the risotto, but if you drink, I highly recommend pouring a glass of whatever wine you end up cooking with to sip while you eat your risotto. In the episode, Sookie figures out Lucien Mills didn’t particularly care for the risotto because he had it with a riesling. A Riesling is way too sweet for a risotto, and as Sookie says, “changes the entire flavor of the dish,” so you want to make sure if you eat your risotto with wine, it’s dry!
The next thing that makes this risotto magic is the cheese. Again, I’m not normally an ingredient snob, but to get a truly magic risotto, take my advice and use Parmigiano Reggiano over your regular parmesan cheese. Yes, this comes at a higher price tag, but it’s so worth it. I’ll admit, I never really knew the difference between Parmigiano Reggiano and parmesan, but parmesan is basically an imitation of the former, and believe me, there is a big difference in the quality of taste. Parmigiano Reggiano is nutty and rich in flavor because it’s aged for at least two years and comes from Italy. You can absolutely make this dish with parmesan, but Parmigiano Reggiano will amp up the magical flavor of the risotto.
My last step to making this risotto magic is crispy sage. Fresh sage is seriously underrated, and I love topping pasta dishes with a few fried sage leaves. I was first introduced to using crispy sage leaves by Chrissy Teignan in her Cravings cookbook with her sweet potato gnocchi. It’s such an easy step, and elevates the flavor of the dish. Top your bowl of risotto with some of the crispy sage and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and just feel the magic.
This episode gives us so many great moments: the first flirting between Lorelai and Mr. Medina (before they made him a bore), the sweet moment of Lorelai sleeping at the kitchen table next to Rory after their study session, and quite possibly one of the best lines of the show, “I got hit by a deer!” I enjoy any time Rory is not painted as a perfect student. Seeing her struggle to keep up at Chilton after being touted as the smartest girl at Stars Hollow High makes her a more relatable character. I like watching her work so hard for the Shakespeare test because there are episodes later on (and the entire Netflix revival) where Rory doesn’t really try.
I’m not going to lie, I totally copied Rory’s sweatpants under the plaid school look on cold mornings while I got ready during my private school days (which we don’t talk about…). Every time I watch this episode, I feel the panic Rory experiences from the moment she realizes she overslept to “my name is RORY!” I love how she breaks out of her quiet and timid persona when she has a meltdown in Mr. Medina’s class when he tells her she can’t take the test because she’s late. We get to see a new side of Rory, and it’s one of the first times in the show she demonstrates her faults.
However, my favorite scene from this episode is when Lorelai has a similar meltdown in Headmaster Charleston’s office which crescendos with one of her favorite insults, Il Duce. I’m not really sure why Lorelai loves making 20th-century dictator references, but this one is just one of many. She delivers a classic Lorelai line in this scene and definitely my favorite from this episode, “I thought this place was going to be so great, but I guess this goes on the ‘boy was I wrong’ list, right above gauchos but just below the Flashdance phase. Her ability to incorporate her quips into literally every conversation, even a tantrum with the headmaster, is what I love about Lorelai. What's on your 'boy was I wrong' list?
If you missed what I made last episode, catch up here!