I’ve loved risotto every since it started showing up on menus in the mid-1990’s. But, I remember “struggling” with how could the rice become “creamy” when you weren’t adding any cream (dairy) to it? So much so, that the first few times we made risotto at home, we used a recipe that actually did add some sort of creamy cheese to it. While it was a good recipe, we eventually trusted that the rice would reach that creamy consistency on its own and we’ve never gone back to that original recipe!
Over the years Ed and I developed our own recipe that we now adapt with different ingredients. It’s never done us wrong – we’ve (or I’ve) made it with different pots, on different stoves, in different states and it always turns out well. Patience is the key to making good risotto. You never, ever want the rice to be “chalky” – if it is that means it wasn’t cooked long enough.
I’ve had my fair share of bad risotto in restaurants, so I only order it now at “trusted” places (usually very good northern Italian restaurants where I know they will do it right). And, it must be made fresh. I love to be able to make food ahead of time, especially when we’re entertaining, but I would never try it with risotto. Having said that, we always make a bit extra as we do like the leftovers the next day.
This is a true, true team effort and one of the reasons we love making it. I get the recipe going and then turn it over to Ed once I’ve put the first ladle of broth into the mixture. And, this is the kind of meal that you prepare with your guests in the kitchen with you. You know how you can never get your dinner guests out of the kitchen? In this case, you don’t have to!
There are endless possibilities of ingredient combinations. For the batch below (which I made for a “golf widows” dinner for Embry H, Kathy K, Kristie A and Lori G), I used asparagus, black walnuts and walnut oil with vegetable broth and white wine – a nice spring combination. I sprinkled the toasted walnuts on at the end and drizzled a bit of walnut oil to finish it off. This combination is both vegetarian and gluten-free. Another favorite of ours is mushrooms, prosciutto, rosemary, beef broth and red wine – particularly good in the fall.
If you are creative with your additions and follow this recipe, I promise you will create fabulous risotto all the time!
|Nicole & Ed's Risotto|| || |
- Main additions (veggies, meat, nuts, etc) - see below
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 cup arborio rice
- ½ cup dry wine (white or red)
- 3 cups broth/stock (chicken, beef, fish or vegetable)
- ⅓ cup grated cheese
- fresh basil or parsley, chopped
- Additions: You can add anything you want to risotto. Whatever you add cook separately (sauté, steam or roast in oven at 400°F with olive oil) and add to the rice mixture just before it is done. Suggestions include: asparagus, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, eggplant, squash, shellfish, prosciutto and various nuts (toasted first). The flavors you pair will dictate both the type of broth and wine you use – white wine with chicken, vegetable or fish broth and red wine with beef broth.
- In a stockpot or large saucepan, bring the broth to a gentle simmer over low heat.
- Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Sauté the shallots until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the rice and sauté until it’s glistening and well coated with the shallots, about 3 minutes.
- Raise the heat to medium and add the wine. Stir until it almost evaporates, about 2 minutes. Using a ladle, add about 1 cup hot broth. Stir constantly until the broth has been adsorbed. Add another ladleful of broth and keep stirring until it’s been adsorbed.
- Continue the process, adding broth ½ cup at a time and stirring in this way until the kernels are plump and no longer chalk white in the center. This should take 25-30 minutes altogether. The rice is almost done when the kernels are still separate but starting to bind, and there are pools of broth on the surface. It’s done when the liquid has been adsorbed, and the kernels are bound in what looks like very ricey, yet somewhat creamy, rice pudding (and the rice doesn’t stick to your teeth when you taste it). You don’t have to use all of the broth.
- When the risotto is nearly done, add additional (precooked) ingredients and stir well until all of the liquid has been adsorbed. Remove from heat; stir in grated cheese and sprinkle with chopped fresh basil or parsley. Serve immediately with additional cheese on the table.