Sunday, 19 September 2010

Roger Ebert Loves His Pot! Recipe for Rice Cooker Risotto

And he wants you to love your pot too. Your rice cooker that is. 
Ebert has been in the public eye as of late. Beyond surviving, he is thriving and triumphing over the physical challenges thrown at him. I have to admit, I didn't really think about Roger Ebert at all before I read this book. He, of course, has had a very long career as a film critic, but I am a wait-til-it's-on-TV sort of gal, for the most part. I didn't even know he wrote about food, or kept a blog. I do now. Turns out he is an incredibly entertaining writer. Irreverent and witty, very enjoyable.
This book developed out of a very popular blog post about how to use the rice cooker - beyond steaming white rice, and beyond what that little booklet that came with your rice cooker will tell you. Ebert's point is that the mystical and magical Pot can be used for any number of meals, "anything but a soufflé". The slim volume expands upon his original post, and includes some of the funnier comments and some recipes. But beyond giving you rice cooker - Pot - cooking tips and ideas - he is giving you license to experiment. See what works for you. Discover all the possible ways you rice cooker could come in handy.
Ebert no longer eats solids, but he has embraced his rice cooker for decades. Once road food and fast food started to wear on him, he began bringing his beloved Pot to film festivals - and discovered just how versatile it was. He describes himself as a "competent cook", and still cooks for his wife and even his friends.

The forward is by Yvonne Nienstadt (recipe consultant and nutritionist) and the Introduction is by Anna Thomas (The Vegetarian Epicure, Love Soup). It is funny how they argue with, contradict, and love Ebert all at the same time.

My biggest discovery since reading this book? I tried cooking my (presoaked) dried beans in it. I am very lazy about having to watch a pot on the stove for long periods of time. How did they turn out? Perfect! Definitely worth the price of admission.

The Pot and How to Use It
The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker
Roger Ebert
paperback, 128 pages

Rice Cooker Mushroom Risotto

A delicious risotto cooked in the rice cooker.


2 tablespoons olive oil
80g butter
1 onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cups (metric) uncooked Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 litre chicken stock, hot
200g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
150g button mushrooms, sliced
½ cup grated parmesan
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper


1. In a large frying pan heat half the oil and butter; add onions and garlic and cook until the onions are tender. Add the rice and stir through to coat the rice with the onion mixture.

2. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has absorbed. Transfer mixture to the Rice Cooker cooking pan. Add the hot chicken stock and stir through. Making sure that the exterior of the pan is dry; place into heating vessel.

3. Replace the lid.

4. Depress the automatic control lever to “COOK”.

5. When cooking is complete, the lever will automatically switch to the “KEEP WARM” mode. Leave the rice in the cooker for 10 minutes at this stage. DO NOT REMOVE LID.

6. Meanwhile heat the remaining oil and butter in a frying pan and cook, stirring until the mushrooms are tender; drain any excess liquid.

7. After the rice has been in the “KEEP WARM” mode for 10 minutes, open the lid. Stir through the mushrooms, parmesan and parsley. Season to taste with black pepper.

8. Serve immediately.

*I seasoned mine a little heavier, and I needed more liquid, but it was very tasty nonetheless.