Thursday, October 13, 2011


Ok so risotto isn't as hard as it seems, but it does require a bunch of stirring.  I have made risotto without stirring constantly and you still get a nice result.  Also, risotto is not a dish, it is a cooking technique.  Usually it is made with a short grain rice (there are three types, but the most common one is arborio rice).  For some reason I have a hard time finding it, and when I do it is so over-priced.  So yes, most times I use long grain rice, jasmine rice, or even pasta (especially orzo or broken spaghetti).  You just need to understand what is going on when you cook risotto.  Basically you are breaking down the starches in the food (this is why you need to stir stir stir!) and then some starch is being released and some gets absorbed back into the rice or grain you are using.  That is why it has a creamy texture in the end.  This technique is a classic and a corner stone in the kitchen.  Once you know the technique by heart, you won't think it's that big of a deal.  Actually, I like how risotto takes time to cook- it is time you can spend in the kitchen with friends or loved ones just chatting and enjoying some wine- you can also have them help you stir when your arm gets tired.

Risotto is a classic Italian dish.  I usually pair it with baked chicken, or something I don't really need to keep an eye on, so I can focus on the risotto.  Risotto is a great technique to learn because there are so many different ways you can customize it.  As long as you follow the traditional directions below- you can add pretty much anything to it.  Some examples: mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, lemon, different cheeses, chicken, fennel, bacon and the list goes on. 

  • 1 cup of rice (shorter the grain the better)
  • about 5-6 cups of chicken stock (you might not use it all- it varies each time)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ½ cup of dry white wine
  • ½ cup of parmesan cheese
  • Butter
  1. We need to start with two pans- one a large skillet and the other a pot for the stock.
  2. In the pot add the stock and warm it up- we just need to get the liquid warm and keep over low heat.
  3. In the skillet add about 2 tbsp of butter (or you could use oil too).  Keep the flame over medium heat and when the butter is melted add the onion and some salt.  We are sweating the onion, not browning it.  So do this over medium heat until the onions are translucent.
  4. When the onions are done add the rice and toast the rice for a couple minutes.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the wine.  Let the rice absorb the wine completely.
  6. Now we start with the first edition of the stock.  This is going to take a couple of installments.  Add enough stock to the skillet (about 2-3 ladles full) to just barely cover the rice.  Stir this until all the liquid is absorbed. (Yes, lots of stirring needed to develop the starches).
  7. Repeat step 6 until the rice has a creamy consistency and is cooked through.  You should use almost all the stock, if not all of it.  It varies, sometimes I use it all- sometimes I am left with a cup or so leftover.
  8. At the very end add the cheese and a tbsp of butter and whip it up like mad to get the correct final consistency.
  9. Serve immediately.

And that's it! Told you it was easy!

If you wanted to make this with additions- you would either add them in when you cook the onions, before the rice toast, or at the end right before you add the cheese.  Add with the onion if the food needs to be cooked (e.g. mushrooms, garlic).  Add at the end if the food is already cooked (or really quick cooking- e.g. peas, spinach).


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