I hear time and time again from people that they are intimidated by the thought of making risotto at home. To me risotto is easy, it is a five to one ratio (5 liquid to 1 rice) and couldn’t be simpler to make. I love making it on a week night, such a treat after a long day. It is such a versatile dish – you can add all sorts of vegetables, shellfish, meat, whatever and turn it into a one pot dish. It is a great way to use up leftovers as well.
In a saucepan, heat 5-6 cups of stock (chicken, vegetable, shellfish, depends on what else you will be adding to the risotto) on low, you are just looking to heat it up a bit, not bring it to a boil. Then, you finely dice either an onion or shallot. Saute in a small amount of oil, on medium heat. You are looking to soften the vegetable, not caramelize it, add a pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper. Once it is soft, add your arborio rice, stirring to coat it in the fat.
Deglaze the pan with about a 1/4 cup of white wine. Allow the rice to completely absorb the wine. Ladle in one to two ladles of warmed stock. Stir slowly and allow the rice to absorb the liquid, once it has, add another ladle of stock, continue until you have used about 5 cups of liquid. Test the risotto, is it tender? If not, add a half ladle full of stock and continue to stir. The starch from the rice will release into the liquid and you will have this lovely sauce, an almost creamy consistency. Once the rice is tender and the sauce creamy, I add about 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese. Please, please, please, don’t use the crap in the can, buy a wedge of Parmesan Reggiano and grate it by hand. Trust me, you will notice the difference and thank me for it! Should you wish to increase the creaminess of the dish, feel free to splash one or two tablespoons of heavy cream into the pan before serving. To me, if you have made the dish correctly, you don’t need to add it but it certainly adds a luciousness to the final dish.
Risotto is a dish that requires time and attention. It should take you between 20-25 minutes once you add your first ladle of stock. To me, that is time well spent. I pair it with a vegetable and protein that don’t require much attention so I can concentrate on it alone. I find I enjoy making risotto on days that have been especially aggravating at work. I have to let everything go to give my attention to the task at hand. It helps me relax and it is such a soul satisfying dish that by the end of dinner by stress has melted away.
Some of my favorite add ins:
Fresh Peas – blanched and added just before serving
Roasted Butternut Squash – cut the squash into bite size pieces, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, roast on a sheet pan in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes, add when risotto is tender
Roasted, Grilled or Steamed Asparagus
Try changing the parmesan for goat cheese, delish!
You are only limited by your imagination….try it, I swear you will be amazed at how easy it is.