Risotto is easy and classic with limitless possibilities. The Italian rice - Arborio, Vialone Nano and Carnaroli needed to prepare this dish is readily available almost everywhere.
For years I was intimidated by this wonderful Italian specialty. But once I began experimenting with risotti, I discovered it was as simple as good timing and a strong stirring arm.
Risotto is a great dish for sneaking vegetables into unsuspecting kids - diced spinach, pureed winter squash, even mushrooms. The kids gobble up the Parmesan cheese laden rice with its hidden nutrients and are none the wiser that they've eaten something healthy.
Rachel Ray takes risotto one step further with a Risotto and Mini Meatball dish that is a bit too cute for my taste, but is sure to make the kids ask for seconds.
A basic risotto recipe can be altered simply by changing the intingolo, the sauce or cooked ingredients added to the risotto. Risotti are prepared following the same basic procedure, with variations according to the intingoli.
For this recipe, you'll require two pans - one for the intingolo and the other for the basic risotto.
Basic Risotto Recipe
Serves 6 to 8
- 1½ cups Arborio rice
- 1 quart chicken stock
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 medium shallot or ½ small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
- 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
- Kosher salt, to taste
Heat the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan, then lower the heat so that the stock just stays hot. Note: Liquids added to the risotto should be warm rather than cold.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the chopped shallot or onion. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until slightly translucent.
Add the rice to the pot, stirring briskly with a wooden spoon until the grains are coated. Don't let the rice turn brown.
Add the wine, stirring until the liquid is fully absorbed.
Then add a ladle of warm chicken stock to the rice, stirring until the liquid is fully absorbed.Continue adding ladles of stock and stirring the rice while the liquid is absorbed. As it cooks, the rice will take on a creamy consistency as it begins to release its natural starches.
Continue adding stock, a ladle at a time, for 20-30 minutes or until the grains are tender but still firm to the bite, without being crunchy.
If you run out of stock and the risotto still isn't done, you can finish the cooking using hot water. Just add the water as you did with the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring while it's absorbed.
As the last stock is being absorbed, stir in the desired intingolo.
Finally, stir in the remaining butter, the Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese and the parsley. Correct to taste with Kosher salt.
Serve immediately since risotto turns glutinous if held for too long. Properly cooked, the risotto should be soft and creamy.
Spinach Mushroom Intingolo
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup Cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup, red pepper, diced
- 4 cups spinach, washed & coarsely torn
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Cremini mushrooms, red pepper and garlic. Saute until tender. Then add the spinach and continue cooking until the spinach has wilted, about 3-4 minutes.