… Actually it means “little rice,” but as far as I’m concerned stirring is the most memorable part. I wish I kidding, but this little dish demands your undivided attention.
Cold evenings to me mean comfort food, and one of my favorites is the always labor intensive, joyously gooey risotto. I’ve failed to make a proper risotto more times than anything else I’ve ever attempted. Fortunately I have friends that have always been good sports. You kinda have to be when you eat crunchy, undercooked rice, or flavorless, goupy crap. It was maddening to not be able to figure out this dish. After some research I wasn’t any more enthusiastic. All the recipes pretty much say the same thing. But after a lot of trial and error, including a Friday night or two with a bag or rice and a glass of scotch, I got a pretty good handle on this temperamental and wonderful dish.
Key things to remember whenever making risotto:
- Heat your stock beforehand, you don’t want to add cold stock to the rice since it’s going to stop the cooking and cook the rice unevenly.
- Stir constantly! Not just to make sure the rice cooks evenly and doesn’t burn, but stirring helps release the starchy gluttons that give risotto it’s creamy texture.
- Add your cheese after you remove the risotto from the heat. The cheese shouldn’t cook at all, but mix with the starches and pull of the flavors together.
- Everyone says 20 minutes. Bullshit. It usually took me 40 minutes to get the rice cooked enough. The timing comes with experience so don’t worry if 20 minutes in your rice isn’t done yet.
Another thing that you should consider when opting to put together is whether you can get your hands on the right starch. Don’t expect using Jasmine or long grain to produce the same results as Arborio.What you’re looking for is a short, white grain rice as the main ingredient. Arborio, Vialone Nano, and Carnaroli are the most used type of rice used in the traditional recipe.
What you’ll need for about 2 servings:
2 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 white onion or 2-3 shallots finely chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup of dry white wine or vermouth
4 cups (32 ounces) chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt / pepper
Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
First things first, put your stock in a pot and get it heated up, but not boiling. Risotto is all about a gradual absorption of stock. If you add cold stock to the rice, it’s going to slowdown the cooking process.
While stock is heating get the rest of the prep out of the way (chop onions/garlic, grate cheese, open wine). Done? Ready? Ok, next 30-40 minutes you’re only goal is to shun your guests and watch, smell and taste.
Splash a little olive oil and a tablespoon of butter on a medium hot pan then add your chopped onions. Once tender toss in garlic. Next comes several steps that are going to happen fast and are crucial steps to get this dish down pat.
Now add your rice and STIR! It’s going to sizzle and pop but don’t stop stirring, letting the rice absorb all the oils and flavors in the pan. When the rice starts to look translucent around the edges and you’re noticing most of the oil has disappeared you throw in your wine.
Wine in. STIR! It’s going to smell amazing and steam up in your face but keep working the rice. Once the rice has absorbed the wine and it’s looking a bit dry it’s time to add your stock.
At this point I’ve found the best results aren’t from adding stock a ladle full at a time, but pour in about half your stock and bringing it to a boil. Cover it if necessary. This is the one time when you don’t need to stir. Once boiling turn the heat back down to medium-low and resume stirring until the stock is fulling absorbed.
Stirring, stirring, stirring, a little more stock, stirring, stirring, stirring. From here on out you’re stirring till the stock is absorbed and then adding a ladle of stock at a time till the rice is ready. Thirty to forty minutes is about what you can expect to use most of your stock and get the risotto to have the texture and taste you want. Stir, taste, repeat.
Pull your pan off the heat, give it a few more stirs for good measure and toss in your grated Parmesan cheese and butter. Put a lid on it and let the cheese, butter, starch melt together. Serve pronto.