pan-fried cod and garlic/mushroom risotto

the idea of this blog was to get me to expand my horizons and experiment, and while i've definitely tried some new things i want to push the envelop a bit more and really start cooking things i've never tried to make before. what's the fun of getting your masters in gastronomy if you don't experiment a bit with new techniques? so in that vein...

i've never actually fried fish before, and i'd also never made risotto before, so with all the fish in my freezer and the bags and bags of rice i seem to have mysteriously acquired, i figured it was time to experiment. they actually turned out quite well, although i meant to make broccoli as well and completely forgot so it was a rather beige meal.

risotto isn't as complicated to make as i thought, but it is time consuming - at least an hour, potentially longer depending on how much you're making. if you happen to be a full time masters student and have hours of reading every week, like myself, this might be the meal for you. if you're looking for a quick meal on a weeknight, i'd save this for another evening.

you will need:
1 1/4 cup long grain rice
4-5 cloves of garlic
14 oz chicken stock
14 oz water
few tbsp olive oil
about 1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
3-4 filets of fish, fresh or frozen (i used cod because i had it but this will work with any white fish)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt to taste
vegetable oil for frying

since the risotto takes a lot longer to do, we'll start there. you don't have to roast your garlic, but it gives the risotto a great flavor. (it'll still taste good if you don't feel like doing this.) preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and peel the garlic cloves and wrap them in aluminum foil. cover them with a few dribbles of olive oil.

pop this into the oven for about 50 minutes. 

you can do this while you prepare the risotto, since it takes awhile and the garlic won't go in until the very end.

for the risotto, begin by throwing the water and chicken stock into a saucepan and bringing it up to a simmer. drizzle a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large pan and put over medium heat. once the oil is hot, add the chopped onion.

saute these for a minute or two, then add the mushrooms. top with salt and pepper.

saute these together for about 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms start to release their juices. everything should be beginning to brown.

add the rice, and let it cook for a minute or two to toast. 

then, ladle 2 scoops of the chicken stock mixture into the pan. stir and let simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed.

continue this process of adding liquid and letting it absorb until all of the liquid is used up. this can take around 30 minutes or more. the rice should be cooked but not mushy, and starts to look creamy.

once the liquid is gone, add the garlic, cheese, and butter. (i also threw in some herbs and spices - ground mustard, basil and parsley, as well as some more salt and pepper.) turn off the heat, let sit for a few minutes and it'll be ready to serve. sorry for the lack of pictures of the finished product - steve got home and i was starving!

onto the fish - if your fish smells pretty strongly and you want to cut the fishiness a bit, soak the filets in water with some salt for a few minutes (up to an hour). won't hurt the fish and helps to keep it from being too overwhelming. since my fish was frozen, i did soak it for about 20 minutes.

grab several bowls and prep your assembly line - 1 bowl with flour, 1 with the egg and milk (whisked lightly together), and 1 with breadcrumbs, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.

pat the fish dry, then put it through the assembly line - flour, egg mixture, then breadcrumbs. once your fish is prepped, grab a large frying pan with high sides and put about an inch of vegetable oil in. heat it on medium until the oil is hot, then drop your fish in carefully.

keep an eye on these, because they only need 2-4 minutes. you want them to be a beautiful golden brown. take them out and serve immediately with your risotto (and vegetables, if you can get it together better than i can!).

i know it's a lot of beige, but i promise that both the fish and risotto are absolutely delicious.

i'm trying to decide what to make next, and i have a little list going. any requests? i'm thinking of trying french onion soup, tomato bisque, pesto lasagna, potato leek soup a la julia child, perhaps some huevos rancheros or jumbalaya...?

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thanks so much for reading!