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Creamy Risotto Without the Butter (or the Broth)

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The other night I got home from work with a craving for risotto. I headed straight to the pantry to see if I had what I needed: Carnaroli rice. Check. Dry white wine. Check. Dried porcini. Check. It was going to be a mushroom risotto. I had onions and Parmigiano in the fridge, too, but—oh no—no butter and no chicken broth!

Well, that was not going to stop me. I decided to substitute water for broth and olive oil for butter. All along, as I was slowly pouring water instead of broth into the rice while stirring, I thought: “This is just not going to taste right. It’ll be so bland.” In the end, though, it was anything but.

To make up for the lack of butter’s “creaming effect” I stirred the rice extra vigorously to get as much starch out of it as possible. That made it nice and creamy. And as for flavor, a little extra Parm stirred in at the end didn’t make me miss the butter or the broth (and further contributed to the creaminess).

So, all right, it wasn’t quite as rich and full-flavored as when you pull all the stops, but it was still a very satisfying risotto. Something to keep in mind if you’re trying to watch your calories—or if you don’t have all the ingredients in the pantry.

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