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Check out Patrick's tips to make risotto a daily pleasure.

Like risotto? We've rounded up our favorite recipes just for you.

chefs at home


For over 20 years, Patrick O'Connell has been wowing diners and pampering guests at his fabulous Inn at Little Washington, a short drive from the nation's capital. Patrick shares his cooking philosophies and his favorite place to eat with FoodFit's Executive Chef Bonnie Moore.

BONNIE: Patrick, you taught yourself to cook and now you're one of the world's top chefs. How did you do it?

PATRICK: Replicating what I tasted, working on it until I got it right and immersing myself in cookbooks. It came fairly easily—not that I didn't make some awful things. But the idea is tasting something and then being able to produce it. If I can do it, anybody can do it.

BONNIE: What restaurant approaches apply at home?

PATRICK: I think always wearing an apron is a start. If you go to do a workout, you wear workout clothes. Approach the kitchen with the idea that it's furthering a skill. And put the salt, pepper and sugar out—salt and sugar in bowls where you can pinch it with your fingers, pepper in a pepper milI. It speeds up the process of cooking. With salt shakers you have no idea how much you're putting in because you can't control the flow.

BONNIE: Anything else?

PATRICK: I like the idea of cooking once a week on a Sunday afternoon or one night—whenever you can set aside time to enjoy it. Do a whole lot of things that you can use throughout the rest of the week. It takes the "chore" feeling away when you have to come home and make something and you're tired and cranky and you're mad at the food. (Try this concept with Bonnie's Menus for the Week.)

BONNIE: Tell us about your method to pre-make risotto.

PATRICK: The idea is to make the risotto ahead then flavor it nightly, just like you would a pasta. (see Patrick's risotto tricks)

BONNIE: What's your favorite utensil?

PATRICK: I like rubber scrapers. Medium or large—they're nice for folding things and you get every last little morsel. They're underutilized.

BONNIE: How do you encourage people who are too intimidated to cook?

PATRICK: There are no mistakes, and many of the greatest dishes came from people thinking that they'd made a terrible mistake. Julia Child always said very wisely, never apologize, especially when you're entertaining.

BONNIE: There must be some way to guarantee success?

PATRICK: What I recommend is that you start with one dish. It doesn't matter what it is. Choose a dish. Become the world's foremost expert in making that dish. Then add a second dish and a third dish and that's your entertaining menu. Make it once a week for friends, family, whatever—before inviting guests over. Each time it's a little bit better and the time it takes to produce it is cut down, and you can begin to play with it.

BONNIE: Where do you like to eat?

PATRICK: I actually enjoy eating in the car because no one can find me.

BONNIE: What do you eat in the car?

PATRICK: I've trained them at the local Burger King to make me a delicious char-grilled, double chicken breast. I call it a Code Blue. So three times a week, I drive up and I just say Code Blue.

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PATRICK O'CONNELL'S RISOTTO TRICKS:

  • Make a batch of risotto double the size your family can eat
    in a sitting (see our risotto recipes to get ideas)
  • When the risotto is close to done, but still has a little
    tooth to it, spill it out onto a cookie sheet
  • Cover and refrigerate
  • Presto! Quick, easy risotto that just needs to be flavored
    and heated


Recipes:

Risotto with Fresh Peas
Pumpkin Squash Risotto
Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

 

Photograph: Tim Turner © 2000

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