OK, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: this is not risotto. Sure, it’s made with Arborio rice cooked in broth and it has aromatics, butter, cream, and cheese added to it. But it’s not risotto.
What makes it “not risotto” is the fact that the rice is put on the stove with all the broth added to it and allowed to cook, unattended, until the broth has mostly absorbed and the rice is tender. Risotto, by contrast, is made by adding the broth a little at a time and cooking until it is absorbed before adding more.
Dorie Greenspan goes to great lengths in Around My French Table to explain that this is not risotto. And I suppose that’s why she gave the recipe such a long, descriptive, non-risotto name. Personally, I would’ve just called it Creamy Rice. Whatever it’s called, it was this week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie.
Because you don’t have to attend to the rice while it cooks, this recipe comes together pretty quickly. After putting the rice on the stove, I cooked some spinach with a little salt, until it wilted and lost most of its volume.
While the spinach cooled, I sautéed onions and garlic in butter.
Then it was just a matter of stirring the rice and spinach into the onion mixture and adding cheese and cream.
I served the creamy rice with turkey sausage for a simple, delicious dinner. Risotto purists might object to the texture of the rice, which was more gooey than risotto should be. But no one would complain about the flavor. The garlic and spinach complimented each other well and were the predominate flavors in the dish.
Why the French make their not-risotto this way, well, I suppose only the French know. But one thing I know is that, while it won’t replace traditional risotto in my kitchen, this is a dish that will make repeated appearances on my French table.