Risotto is a wonderful and versatile Italian rice dish. You can use it on the side to accompany any number of main courses or “jazz” it up with veggies and diced ham or chicken to make a great main event.
There are some basic techniques to making a delicious, creamy risotto that may cause you a bit of angst. However, once you’ve mastered the technique, you can use that skill to create countless number of wonderful meals.
When purchasing rice for your risotto, you will need to get a short-grained, round rice, such as Arborio. Long grain rice or minute rice will not work for a risotto as neither type has the capacity to absorb the ingredients and the grains will remain separated. As a result, you will not be able to achieve the creamy texture and consistency that is the hallmark of a great risotto. Now days, you can purchase Arborio rice in any of the major supermarkets.
Although risotto recipes will have variations, the basic concepts of preparing a risotto are as follows:
- Begin by mincing a small amount of onion and/or other herbs that may be indicated in your recipe.
- Saute the onion and other herbs in a combination of olive oil and unsalted butter. When the onion is translucent, remove from pan with a slotted spoon and reserve, leaving the drippings in the pan.
- Stir in the rice and saute until it also becomes translucent. Usually takes about 10 minutes. Stir constantly to ensure that the rice doesn’t stick and burn.
- Return the onion and herb mixture to the pan with the rice. Add approximately 1/3 cup of red or white wine that has been warmed. It is important to note that all liquids that are introduced into the risotto should be warmed. If not, cold liquids will shock the rice and cause it to flake on the outside and remain hard on the inside. Continue to cook over medium heat until the wine has evaporated.
- At this point, you want to begin to introduce your stock (low sodium chicken, beef or vegetable) into the rice mixture. This should be in small amounts – ½ -1 cup and stir constantly. Continue to stir until the stock has almost been totally absorbed by the rice. Then add another small amount of stock and continue the process until all stock has been incorporated into the rice mixture.
- Once all the stock has been incorporated, remove from heat and add butter and grated cheese. Cover and let the risotto set for approximately 5 minutes before serving. If you would like a creamier risotto, you can add a small amount of heavy cream along with the butter and the cheese.
If you follow these simple steps, you can prepare delicious risotto in no time. It can serve as the foundation for creating a wide variety of sides and entrees. One classic Italian dish is called, Rise e Bisi (Rice and Peas). It’s a great accompaniment for roasted pork or chicken.