Is It Really Risotto? | Crock Pot Express Diary, Part 2

Tuesday Revews-Day

This is an entirely unsolicited, unsubsidized review of the Crock Pot Express and a few cookbooks relating to the appliance. While there will be Amazon affiliate links, that’s as far as it goes.

Miss part 1? Start here.

Day 2–Is it really risotto?

The Crock Pot Express has a rice/risotto function but I am, to put it mildy, skeptical. Yes, the CPE was purchased, in part, to replace a flagging rice cooker, but risotto is another step.

Risotto is a method, a technique, that yields a very particular result when done correctly. I’ve heard of risotto-like-things being prepared in the microwave or on the stove with no stirring (blasphemy, I tell you) but I’ve yet to really be impressed by any.

So, of course, I had to give it a try in the electric pressure cooker, at least once.

Easiest Chicken Risotto (Stewart, 52) seemed like a good choice at first glance. Looking deeper, it didn’t specify the type of rice to use (strike one), said to use the Beans/Chili mode when there’s actually a button for “Rice/Risotto” (strike 2), and included no mantecarra–the finishing step of adding butter (and often Parmesan cheese) to gild the creamy texture that has been achieved through the slow incorporation of stock into the rice.

So I ignored several bits of the recipe as stated, going with what I knew to be better choices, and the result was… not bad. Was it the same as the risotto I would have gotten with 30 minutes or more at the stove? No. Was it a glorified chicken and rice? No, it was better than that. So it’s somewhere in the middle.

I will say it was nice to put everything together, set the timer, and go back to my office and send some emails while waiting for supper to cook in less than 20 minutes. That I didn’t mind one bit.

Day 3: I’m a believer!

As I was browning the pork shoulder (a step I’d routinely skip when using the slow-cooker, as dirtying another dish eliminated one of the big pros of a Crock Pot, for me) for the Perfect Moist and Tender Pulled Pork (Stewart, 128) tonight, I got a text from Todd saying he’d be home late. 

This sounded like a good time to try out the Delay timer on the Crock Pot Express, which I set for 30 minutes, allowing plenty of time for it to achieve pressure and then cook the pork shoulder for 50 minutes and have supper more or less ready right around 7:30, when Todd would get home.

While I really wondered about whether not-quite-an-hour in the pressure cooker could really replicate fall-apart-tender pulled pork to rival a day in the slow cooker, at least this was a benchmark function of pressure cooking and I wasn’t so much skeptical as I was curious.

I set up the machine, checked at 30 minutes to make sure it had switched over to “heat” to build the necessary pressure, and went and read a book in my office. And promptly fell asleep until Todd’s boots hit the hallway at 7:45ish or so. Oh hell!

But Exie (my Crock Pot Express has a name, it is one of the family now) had my back, though, because it switched right over to Warm mode after the preset time and was ready to release the pressure and, yes, fall to pieces at the merest suggestion of the two forks.

Looks like I’ll get to use those boxes for doll rooms after all!

My Favorite Risotto Recipe


Risotto has a reputation for being difficult or complicated. That’s far from the truth. Some people complain about how long it takes and that you have to constantly stir it (resulting in all sorts of “hacks” or short-cuts that claim to do it better in less time, but seldom do). Stirring constantly is what created the uniform texture of the risotto, it’s not something to be skipped over, and we’re only talking 20 minutes or so, during which you’re also adding broth in small amounts, so it’s far from the boring drudgery that many make it out to be.

In this week’s View from the Countertop video I show you just how simple it is to make my favorite risotto, and I’ve put the recipe below, as well. I don’t think I’ve ever had this turn out poorly, and I’ve served it alongside steak, chicken, and salmon. Since I was filming this batch, I can tell you that it took exactly 26 minutes from the time I started the camera (just before adding the butter to the pan) and turning it off after making up our plates. And that included going and scolding Duncan at least once for whining at the baby gate keeping him out from underfoot! Add maybe 10 minutes to prep the fish and chop the rosemary; even then this is not a lengthy meal to prepare!

Risotto Friuli-Style with Rosemary and White Wine

From Marcella Cucina, by Marcella Hazan, lightly adapted for Low-FODMAP diets
Serves 4-6

6 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 T garlic olive oil
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
2 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine

2 Tbsp butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring the broth to a boil and reduce to a simmer. You want the broth hot so as not to slow down the cooking process.

Melt the butter with the garlic olive oil in a large pot or pan over medium heat. Stir in the chopped rosemary and then the rice.

Raise the heat to medium-high and stir the rice in the butter mixture to coat every grain. Add in the wine and cook, still on medium-high, stirring constantly, until the wine is absorbed.

Add the first cup of broth (about 2 standard ladles worth) and cook and stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Then add more hot broth, this time only a single ladle or half a cup at a time, cooking it is absorbed, stirring constantly, repeating until all the broth has been incorporated. This part usually takes 20-25 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mantecare ingredients. This adds creaminess and richness and is not to be missed! Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve while warm.

We ended up having two nights of take-out (I know, so sad). One was planned but the next night I had a horrible sinus headache and just couldn’t fathom the thought of being in the kitchen, so Todd went and picked up Chick-fil-a and I got to experience the amazingness of the Frosted Lemonade. Oh, man, I think I could have one of those every day and not get tired all summer. I’m definitely on a lemon kick.

Here’s what the rest of the week looked like:

Home-Cooked Meals 6/13-6/19

Home-Cooked Meals 6/13-6/19

Monday: Zucchini Crust Pizza
Another as-seen-on-Facebook recipe, this started with the basic crust recipe from Tastemade and I added a meat sauce, tons of mozzarella cheese, and some mini pepperoni slices. Why a meat sauce? It made no sense to me to dirty two dishes to make both the tomato sauce and brown the ground beef. And my zucchini yeilded way more than 4 cups of shreds, so I think we ended up with a double-thick crust. That mean it never crisped up enough to pick up like a slice of normal pizza, but the flavor was really good. I think if/when I make this again I’ll just use some self-rising flour (like gluten-free Bisquick or the like) for a little loft and layer everything in a casserole dish. It’d also make a good freezer meal, I think.

Tuesday: Vegan Corn Chowder
The problem with planning your menu with an eye on the weather is that the weather can shift and leave you with a serious mismatch. Such was the case with the rain holding off until Wednesday and it still being hot and humid on Tuesday night. Oh, well, we always enjoy this corn chowder (from What to Feed Your Raiding Party, the cookbook I wrote), regardless of the weather. I did, however, opt not to make the corn muffins I’d had in mind.

Wednesday: Coconut-Lime Chicken, Purple Rice, and Steamed Green Beans
This recipe from Once a Month Meals looks similar to what I have in our freezer meal recipe reservoir. Usually I’d bake this one, but grilling would be a good idea, too! The purple rice is the last of the bag I brought back from Disney Springs last fall. This time, just making it straight, I could taste a little more of the inherent sweetness in the rice and I definitely would like to pick more of this up next time I find it.

Thursday & Friday: Take out
Thursday was a lettuce wrap from Jimmy John’s (Beach Club is my absolute favorite) and Friday was a Chick-fil-a Cobb Salad and the aforementioned Frosted Lemonade. It was so hot and miserable I was definitely leaning more towards the cold foods, can you tell?

Saturday: Vegetarian Eggs Benedict
As spotted on Cast Iron Cookie, I wasn’t a huge fan of the Hollandaise sauce (it came out too thin for my liking) but the idea of using hashbrowns (Minimalist Bakers’ Hash Brown Haystacks, and I definitely recommend using an egg in the mix) for the base and adding greens instead of the Canadian bacon, that I was all for. Instead of just wilted greens I opted to make up a quick creamed spinach (but kept it fairly thick) for the middle layer. And can I just say that this was my best batch of poached eggs probably ever.

Sunday: Rosemary Risotto with Broiled Salmon
The reason for my being, this week. Since we already talked quite a bit about the risotto, all I did to the salmon was add some salt, pepper, lemon slices, and a sprinkle of dried dill. I put them in shortly after I started the risotto and it was all done at the same time.

That was our week, what’s on your plate for this week?