In which Jeanne stops studying and makes risotto


Carrot Ham RisottoRisotto is the ultimate comfort food.  The smooth and chewy texture of rice cooked to plump perfection in a thick, starchy sauce flavored with a light hint of spices and cheese is heaven.  When a large pot of risotto is slowly simmering on the stovetop with an aroma chock full of flavors just waiting to hit your tastebuds . . . Mmm!

Ambrosia, the food of the gods, must have been a type of risotto.

When I finished class one day last week in chilly San Francisco, I wanted something to both fill my stomach as well as warm me up from the cold trek home.  Despite having lived in California for three years and attending school hear, this is my first full summer spent in SF.  Although I’ve heard it never gets hot here, you don’t really understand the weather until you wander out in the June fog with fleece sweaters on and scarves wrapped around your neck.  I’ll be honest. I’ve never experienced a June this cold before.  My parents report temperatures in the 90s and rising back home.

Yeah.  That’s not happening here.

In any case, I was in desperate need of something to eat that hot and delicious– and a departure from my recent string of sandwich-making.  I can really only take so much ham and cheese and bread before I go insane.

Carrot and ham risottoWhen I was living in Europe, one of the dishes I would make all the time was risotto.  And I’d like to think that I’ve perfected my technique.

Why did I make risotto, instead of just cooking “regular” rice?  This is a rather shameful admission, but I don’t know how to make rice.**  I can make a bomb risotto, but without a high-tech rice cooker, I have no idea how to make your everyday, plain, run-of-the-mill white rice. I end up with the wrong water:rice ratio and either have soup (potentially delicious, by the by) or funky-looking white grains that stick to everything.


**(Yeah, I’m a bad Asian.  I don’t eat rice often, and a 10 lb bag that friends finish within a month lasts me for . . .  Um, let’s just say that I’m glad that rice keeps for years.  I think.  I hope!)

As you may know, I am currently studying for the California Bar.  It’s a three-day marathon exam consisting of eight total essays and 200 multiple choice questions.  From now until July 26, I shall be whipping my brain into shape.  Criminal law!  Property law!  Contracts!  The Constitution!  Various procedural subjects!

Oh joy.

Don’t envy what I have to cram into my head during the next month and a half.  But do envy what I’ll be eating between now and then!  Here’s the recipe.

Carrot and Ham risotto

Risotto is actually not a difficult dish to make.  In fact, it’s extremely easy.  The reason people fear risotto is because it does take some attention over the period of approximately half an hour while you’re stirring.  But once you get used to it, you can stand over the pot like I do, memorizing legal terms held in one hand while stirring risotto with the other.

And the payoff is a delicious dish that is totally worth the tender loving care you give it.

Carrot and Ham Risotto

Serves 2


  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 slices of your favorite ham, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup rice (it doesn’t need to be Arborio rice– as long as it’s short grain, it will work.  Don’t use jasmine rice or long grain– it’ll just come out funky)
  • ~4 cups water or low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a heavy bottomed pot, melt half of the butter on medium high heat.
  2. While it’s melting, in another pot, heat the chicken broth or water.  If it’s just water, add a teaspoon of salt to flavor the water.
  3. Add the garlic and onions and let the onions sweat, stirring periodically, for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.  Don’t let them burn.
  4. Add the ham and carrots, and stir fry for another 5 minutes.  If the temperature is getting too hot and things are starting to brown, turn down the heat.
  5. Put the rest of the butter in with the carrots, ham, and onion.
  6. Add the rice directly to the pot.  To the Asians amongst my readers who wash their rice before cooking– do not wash the rice!  The extra starch that coats the rice is ideal for thickening the broth.  You want it.  Do not wash!
  7. Stir immediately.  Try to make sure that every grain of rice is covered with a layer of butter.
  8. Eventually, the rice, like the onions before it, will take a translucent look, about 2-3 minutes after you put them in the pot.
  9. Add one cup of the broth to the pot, and start stirring with a wooden spoon (in my case, chopsticks).  It doesn’t have to be vigorous stirring– you just don’t want the rice to settle to the bottom and burn.
  10. When most of the water seems gone, add another cup of broth.
  11. Continue until the rice has fully cooked– about 30 minutes and 3 cups of broth later.  The amount of broth you’ll need will vary, depending on the type of rice you use and how much evaporates versus is absorbed by the rice.  You will know it’s done when you taste the rice and the hard, uncooked center of the grains is gone.
  12. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  13. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and add the Parmesan cheese, mixing well to fully incorporate.
  14. Serve, topped with extra Parmesan cheese shavings!

Carrot and Ham Risotto


4 Responses to “In which Jeanne stops studying and makes risotto”

  1. 1 Jason

    Damn Jeanne this is really cool. I’m a fan!

    – Jason

  2. 3 Simona

    I remember the one you made in Spain. I feel ashamed I have not tried it YET, BUt now, I will 😀 Good luck with the Bar!!

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