My Cooking Everest

by Amanda Mattos

Last night I did something I’m really proud of. I finally, successfully made risotto. Yes, that’s right. Risotto. The pretty basic dish that most people master pretty early on. It’s not that I’ve been consistently trying and failing with this dish. It’s that one time, years ago, before I really started cooking, I tried it and it was a disaster. One of the few complete and total cooking disasters I’ve ever caused. I don’t even really remember what I did wrong. But I do remember the totally uncooked rice and the terrible texture and the general taste of failure. It has haunted me ever since.

But I figured, if my good friend Catherine, who doesn’t really cook at all, could surmount risotto as her first attempt at cooking then I could do it too. So I swallowed my fear, went over everything I knew about risotto in my head (from years of anxiously reading recipes and watching the food network), texted Spencer from Whole Foods to make sure I had the basic ingredients I needed, re-read Jamie Oliver’s basic risotta guidelines in The Naked Chef (one of my favorite cook books; also, apparently where I’ve been keeping my Mystery Valentine for the past few years), and made myself some fucking risotto! Three mushroom risotto that I would have been completely and totally thrilled with if I’d ordered it at a restaurant. It was simple and satisfying. And now that I’ve made arborio rice my bitch, I pretty much feel like I can cook anything I ever want. Do other people have things they’re irrationally intimidated by in the kitchen? If so, you should make it your bitch. It’ll make you really happy.

6 responses to “My Cooking Everest

  1. poaching eggs. I always make my boyfriend do it, or i just fry the damn things. I’ve tried the whirlpool method, adding vinegar to the water… everything. Really, i fear cooking any egg other than a fried or hard boiled one. And, I am a damn fine chef in every other aspect. go figure.

  2. I’ll second duck. It always gets described as very difficult, though then others claim it’s not too bad so who knows.

  3. Hash browns. I’ll never be able to get them right – they scare me.

  4. I was scared of duck too, and I’ll admit I let my cousin and much more experienced chef do the lion’s share of the work, but I came away with a general understanding–breast side down, roasting pan, stab the thing a bunch of times so the fat runs out. It was delish. We mostly followed the Joy of Cooking rules.

  5. Pingback: What scares you? | Hands-Free Cooking

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