I never get tired of risotto. It’s the ultimate starchy comfort food, it’s cheap (provided you buy your arborio rice in bulk), and it can be made in infinite varieties. This particular recipe, adapted from Closet Cooking, is an old favorite. Something about the sweet pear, sharp cheese, and creamy rice really pushes some sort of primitive pleasure-reward button in my brain, and I’m ashamed to admit I once ate an entire pot of this all by myself. I was physically unable to stop myself, so I recommend having at least one or two other people around to assist. (B. is not quite as fond of risotto as I am, but I caught him actually scraping individual grains of rice out of the bottom of the pot after we were done eating, so be forewarned I’m not kidding about how addictive it is.)
I’m not sure how many servings this is supposed to be, but for us, obviously, it’s 2.
• 2 T butter: 12 cents
• 2 very ripe pears (smell them when you buy them; they should smell like candy. If not, leave them in a paper bag on your counter for a few days until they do): 95 cents
• 1 T sugar: 2 cents
• 4 oz. Gorgonzola: $2.50
• 1 cup arborio rice: 92 cents
• 1/2 cup white wine (I used chicken broth this time because I didn’t have any, but I love it with the wine): 4 cents
• 1 onion, chopped: 15 cents
• 3 cups chicken broth or stock (or vegetable broth): 21 cents
• Salt and pepper to taste: 2 cents
TOTAL: $4.93/2 = $2.47/serving
Core the pears and cut into bite-sized pieces. (Don’t worry about peeling them.) Melt 1 T butter in a medium skillet or sauté pan, add the pears and the sugar, and cook over medium heat until caramelized, about 10 minutes. The pear should be significantly reduced in size and the liquid should be thick and syrupy. (In this picture, they’re close.)
Heat the broth in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Melt the remaining 1 T butter over medium heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the rice and cook until edges of rice become translucent, about 3 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the wine (or 1/2 cup extra broth) and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 2 minutes.
And now, for the cheater technique you might recall from the lemon risotto: Add the 3 cups hot broth all at once, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for about 18 minutes, stirring twice during cooking. When finished, stir for 3 minutes to release starch until rice becomes noticeably creamy, adding additional broth or water to loosen consistency, if needed. Stir in the cheese, remove from the heat, and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Fold in the pears.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.