As daylight begins to wane sooner and the outdoor air gets a little cooler, there’s a natural inclination in all of us to turn to comfort food to keep our minds at ease.
Different foods fit the bill as comfort food for different people, but there are a few common threads: comfort food is always served hot, errs on the side of rich and hearty, and most varieties seem like menu items at eateries featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
Think: hush puppies, biscuits and gravy, 4-cheese mac n’ cheese, and a steaming bread-bowl full of chili.
However, there’s a time and a place to turn your kitchen into Hillbilly Hog Heaven. That time is most of the time, save for those rare occasions when you want to stay classy, San Diego. I’m talking about those times when an attractive man has given you two tickets to the gun show, and in order to reciprocate with an equally kind gesture, you want to cook him something with soul AND sex appeal.
Listen up, ladies. I may not have all the answers in life, but I do know one thing: the key to a man’s heart is to feed him comfort food that at once impresses and delights him. I know I risk setting the feminist movement back about sixty years by saying this (also, sorry, Miss Porter’s School, and please don’t revoke my high school diploma), but yeah, women will probably always have a place in the kitchen… so you might as well embrace it!
The kitchen is meant to be your playroom and your laboratory, not your prison. And it’s certainly not meant to be a place that makes your guy uneasy whenever you walk into it. If you EVER feed your man tofurkey, quinoa “burgers,” or gluten-free fat-free pasta tossed in I Can’t Believe It’s Not Real Butter spray, or make him choke down a bottle of Skinny Girl cosmo with you, don’t be surprised when he eventually sends you the good ol’ breakup text. A good man deserves a good woman who makes him good food, just as a good woman deserves a good man who makes her smile. Don’t be afraid of failing in the kitchen, because we all do sometimes. But you have to try… and trying doesn’t come in the form of anything in the latest crash diet uber-vegan cookbook for people who hate anything that tastes good.
What I’m trying to say is, with a dish like saffron and porcini risotto simmering on the stove, your man will, with the first bite, be whisked off to Pleasure Town, where he’ll be pointing out the most glorious rainbow ever.. and, well, you know what happens next.
Saffron and Porcini Mushroom Risotto
Dehydrated porcini mushrooms
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, minced
Salt & pepper
2 cups Arborio rice
1/4 teaspoon lightly crumbled saffron threads
1 cup dry white wine
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
1. Rehydrate porcini mushrooms in a small bowl of water for 30 minutes, rinse and dry when done
2. Bring broth and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat
3. Once simmering, cover and keep broth warm over low heat
4. Melt butter in a separate medium saucepan over medium heat
5. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt to pan with butter and cook until lightly browned, about 9 minutes
6. Stir in the rice and saffron threads and cook until the edges begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes
7. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until it is completely absorbed, about 2 minutes
8. Add 3 cups of the warm broth mixture to the rice and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed, about 11 minutes
9. Continue to cook, stirring in roughly 1/2 cup of the broth every few minutes, until the rice is cooked through but is still somewhat firm in the center, about 11 minutes (about 6 minutes in, add porcini mushrooms)
10. Stir in parmesan and parsley (finely chopped), and season to taste with salt and pepper
11. *OPTIONAL: I poured about a 1/2 cup whole milk into the pan right at the end, allowing the heat to help the rice absorb it. It made it extra rich and creamy!