Risotto is a traditional Italian dish and one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy. It originated in Northern Italy, specifically Eastern Piedmont, Western Lombardy, and Veneto, where rice paddies are abundant. It is one of the pillars of Milanese cuisine and one of my favorite, hearty comfort foods that always impresses guests!
Risottos always make a nice vegetarian main course, especially if you're tiring of the pasta routine, or try Risotto alla Milanese made with chicken or beef stock and saffron, which is traditionally served with Osso Buco, or Risotto al Barolo, made with red wine. Thousands of variations exist and the possibilities for flavors and additions are endless.
When buying rice to make risotto, choose either Arborio or Vialone Nano. The three most popular grains of risotto rice are:
The most popular grain, it is large and rounded and has a wonderful creamy texture.
Fork's favorite grain - this long, elegant grain that tends to hold its shape well even when completely cooked. It's a good choice if you find your risotto always turns a little mushy.
Now available in the U.S., this is said to have the creamiest, smoothest texture of all.
Almost all risotti are made following the same basic procedure, with minor variations. Begin by heating your stock or broth in a small saucepan until just simmering. Sauté diced onion or shallot in olive oil and unsalted butter. (Add any additional ingredients here….Mushrooms, pumpkin, etc.) Stir in the rice and sauté until it is coated well. Add a half a cup of dry white wine that you have previously warmed (if it is cold you will shock the rice, which will flake on the outside and stay hard at the core). Simmer the mixture until the wine has evaporated completely. Then add the simmering broth one cup at a time, stirring the risotto constantly until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Continue cooking, stirring and adding broth as the rice absorbs it, until the rice reaches the al dente stage. Add the cheese and a couple tablespoons of butter, adjust the seasoning and serve.
For VALENTINE’S DAY:
Make a Beet Risotto. The sweetness of the beets melds nicely with a rich risotto and gives the dish a pinkish Valentine's hue. Cut the beets into 1/2-inch dice, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425°F until they're tender, about 20 minutes. Stir the roasted beets into my standard risotto recipes above, about halfway through the cooking process.
-If you soak dried mushrooms to make mushroom risotto, use the soaking liquid from the mushrooms in your risotto for fabulous flavor.
-Add a small amount of broth at a time to ensure the rice becomes really plump and tender.
-Only add hot liquids (broth, wine, etc.) to the risotto, while cooking, so as to ensure rich, creamy grains of rice.