This week is the 9 Days, a time of deep mourning for the Jewish People (for more information, see here and here). One of the customs of these nine days is to not eat meat. So we mothers tend to get creative for very picky eaters.
Years ago, when I was newly married, my husband tried to get me to eat his family’s traditional version of mac-n-cheese (noodles, tomato sauce, and american cheese). I would, once in a while, but I am not a real big pasta fan. I prefer rice or potatoes when I can. I’m odd like that.
So, I tinkered a bit and came up with this version. In the infancy of the Food Network, no one was talking about Risotto except maybe Mario Batali, so for a long time, this dish was simply called “rice-n-cheese”. Lately though, with my new love for true Italian risotto, I have renamed this humble dish “American Risotto”. Since I usually eye-ball it, I will try and give exact measurements when I can, but please just use this as a guideline, not as an actual recipe. It’s more fun that way. Change out the American cheese for a mexican blend and use salsa? Why not?
American Risotto – Basic Recipe
1 3/4 cups water
5-6 slices american cheese
pinch or two of salt
1-2 teaspoons of olive oil
1 cup parboiled rice
1/4 tomato sauce
In your pot, add your water, cheese, salt and olive oil. Bring to a boil gently, allowing the cheese to melt. The water will be either yellow if you use yellow cheese or white, if you use white cheese, and very opaque. When the water has boiled and cheese has melted, add your rice and cook for 15-17 minutes or so, until your rice is mostly cooked. At that point, add the tomato sauce, stirring very well to make the color a uniform orange. Let simmer another 5-10 minutes and enjoy.
In my house, this is the pairing to fish sticks at least twice a month. I hope you play with it and make your family’s version perfect for them.