Anyone watch Top Chef? Have you noticed that when people make risotto, they usually get kicked off? It's gluey and overcooked, or unpleasantly crunchily undercooked. These are accomplished chefs! Which proves: It's tough to make delicious risotto, especially for a crowd.
I went to Prune restaurant a few years ago and had Gabrielle Hamilton's "Avgolemono Rice", and had been on a quest ever since to recreate it ever since, but never quite succeeded. And then I got her cookbook, and saw that it wasn't risotto at all!
She cooks jasmine rice (in a rice cooker. Do you have a rice cooker? If not, stop reading this right now and go get one. Don't worry, we'll wait for you.), and then she cools the rice down. Then she makes a sauce. Separately. Then she stirs the right amount of cold (properly cooked-through) rice into the sauce, until it's hot. Done.
The recipe's sauce is made of egg yolk, lemon and broth, which isn't hard to make, but it got me thinking: I should do this with my leftover pureed soup! So I made it with mushroom soup... mushroom "risotto" with my duck confit! Carrott-ginger soup-and-rice made the perfect side for roasted halibut, and roasted tomato was divine with grilled shrimp.
So let's recap:
Does it taste exactly like perfectly-cooked risotto? Of course not. But it's soulful and flavorful and comforting... and it's a helluva lot less work, and pretty fool-proof. Not to mention a gorgeous reincarnation of leftovers.
You can branch out to other grains the other way: Quinoa, Farro, Barley... even Israeli Cous-Cous would be good like this, though it's easier to overcook, so just be aware of that.
You are welcome!