Oh I’m so glad to see you.  Take a look at this. This right here is the risotto. Now let’s talk about the risotto.  Can we please talk about the risotto? Please, Newport, I’m dying to talk about the risotto with you all day, ok.  

I feel like the word risotto stresses people out.  It’s one of those dishes most people dread because they hear horror stories about just how hard it is to make. My opinion is people equate labor intensive with hard to make, which is simply not true. Here’s the thing: it’s not hard to make. In fact, it’s one of the easiest things to make in my opinion. There’s really not much to it. One warning though, if you do it enough times one of your arms may end up looking more like Popeye’s because there is a lot of stirring involved. So, this month I am here to demystify the beast that is risotto and show you that you can do it.  

The risotto I make is made with a short-grain rice called arborio. A basic (yet delicious) risotto has very few ingredients. In fact, take a look at this picture and the list of ingredients:

1 cup arborio rice

4 cups low sodium chicken stock, heated*

½ cup dry white wine, room temperature*

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium yellow or red onion (or 2 shallots diced),  diced

¼  cup finely grated parmesan cheese*

3 Tbsp butter

Salt and pepper to taste

OPTIONAL: A good pinch of saffron

That’s it.  Seriously.  That’s all you need to make a delicious risotto. I’ll discuss the asterisks later.  I know that seems like a lot of liquid. Regular rice is a 1.5-2 to 1 ratio.  Risotto is usually 4 to 1. 

Now, heat up the stock in a sauce pan (I’ll try to not screw that up again) or pot which can hold more than 4 cups of liquid on medium low heat and keep it to a low simmer. IF you have it, throw the saffron into the stock at his point so it can infuse the stock. Make sure your wine is also at room temperature.  You want it room temperature because putting cold wine in the pan will drop the pan temperature too low.  That’s bad news bears. 

Put a large sauté pan on medium heat.  Throw in 2 tablespoons of the butter, the onions and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes or until they are translucent.  Throw the garlic in  for 30-45 seconds or until fragrant. Try not to burn the garlic.  Turn up to medium-high heat. Now, throw in the rice with another pinch of salt and pepper and toast it.

Cook the rice until it starts to also become translucent and you smell a little bit of a nutty smell.  Now, add the wine and start stirring with a wooden spoon.  Yes, I firmly believe that the old traditional way is the best way. Just something about it makes it better. I can’t explain it.  You don’t have to constantly stir, but more often than not is good.  Do this until all of the wine has been absorbed. Now, add a ladle full of the heated stock and stir and cook until liquid is absorbed. Keep doing this until you’ve added all of the stock. This will take about 20-25 minutes.

Do this until all 4 cups of the stock has been used up.  The risotto should still have individual grains of fully cooked rice but also have a bit of a creamy texture. Tender but noy mushy is what we’re looking for. Add you cheese and stir it in until it’s all melted and incorporated.  Add that last tablespoon of butter and incorporate, and voila, you’ve made risotto.  Taste it for seasoning and add what you think it needs. That wasn’t so bad, now, was it?

Yes, I used dry parsley flakes.  It’s all I had!!

Let’s talk about all those asterisks.  Risotto is a highly customizable dish.  You want to make a seafood risotto, use fish stock or seafood stock.  You’re serving this with beef? Well, maybe use red wine, beef stock and gruyere instead of white wine, chicken stock and parmesan. Add some mushrooms to it if you like mushrooms. Sometimes I make this recipe with asparagus and mushrooms because that’s what I like.  Corn is another good addition to risotto.  Here’s a tip: if you’re using dried mushrooms, keep the liquid you used to rehydrate them and use that to give it some mushroom flavor.  Do whatever you like as long as you keep the rice to liquid ratio and cooking technique the same.  

Enjoy the risotto and I’ll see you next month!