Given that challenge, I put it on my wishlist and, it showed up. Eventually, it even got to me! I wasn’t alerted that a particular box had arrived for several days. Also, there was no gift receipt or note in the box, so I have only a vague notion of who might have sent it (the challenger?) and no certain way to send thank to the right person.
However. Thank you!
Having been thus enriched with what I now call The Contraption. It’s a rather complicated that “crockpot” that will also sear and sauté. It can be programmed to execute a series of temperatures on a schedule. I figured I had better use it. There was only one choice for the first attempt: risotto.
Would The Contraption make a) better or at least equal risotto than I make by conventional means and b) would it save me work and time?
I had some decent frozen mixed seafood in the archive, so risotto frutti di mare.
The mise en place.
While heating the seafood stock, I cranked up the heat on The Contraption and got the fat going for the first treatment of the rice. Risotto needs that first taste of heat in some oil or butter to begin breaking into the starches.
As you can see, The Contraption can stir, on a schedule, along the bottom and around the sides.
With the onion.
Time to give it some wine.
Last October for my 60th birthday in Rome, the chef at a great place near to the parish made a special risotto for us. I suggested that he think about pairing with with sake, which a friend from Japan had brought when he came for the Summorum Pontificum pilgimage. He made a splendid special recipe with a touch of Sambuca. I don’t have any Sambuca, but I did have a little Pernod. So I added a touch.
You know what that is.
Well along, in goes the seafood, cherry tomatoes and some peas.
Garnished with pepper and parsley with a sharp, minerally white.
The texture was smooth and creamy, just right. It took longer than a regular pan might have, but the results were good.
Verdict on this risotto and a first round with The Contraption.
Did it save me time and effort? No, neither. That’s because, using for the first time, I was stuck there watching it. However, it did take longer than the conventional method. I might not have had the right temperatures.
The risotto itself was quite good. As good as I usually make it? Pretty close. But this recipe was also a one off. I happened to use something I had on hand. I would have to try something simpler, such as a risotto with white wine and then be willing to walk away for a while. Otherwise, I could just do it in the pan.
I also used The Contraption for two other non risotto things.
First, I made soup from the left overs of the Supper For The Promotion of Clericalism. The Contraption was great for that.
Also with yet more leftovers I made a terrific Bolognese sauce. The Contraption was really good for that. That seems to be, so far, it’s strong suit.
Meanwhile, here’s a commercial for the Latin Mass Society in England, of which my friend Joseph Shaw is the chairman. The Catholic Truth Society has a new booklet (they excel at booklets).
Also, I was quite simply horrified at the grocery store at the price of crème fraîche. “This is not to be tolerated!” quoth I. “I am making my own.”
Heavy cream, a couple tablespoons of cultured buttermilk, cover with something that can breathe, let it sit in a fairly warm place for 24 hours. Check it. If it needs more tang, leave it a little longer. It’ll keep a long time in the fridge. There are some sauces and garnishes that really need this, instead of a substitute. So easy and relatively cheap. The cream was on sale for .89.
So, that is The Contraption.
Many thanks to the kind reader who sent it, whoever you are.