Almost everyone is familiar with Risotto – it is a class of Italian dishes of rice cooked in broth to a creamy consistency, and is normally served as a first course during traditional Italian meals. It is a favorite comfort food, just like Rice is to most Indians. Photo by Antonis Achilleos via Woman’s Day
The luxurious, creamy texture of a good Risotto depends on using the right kind of rice. Italians have several varieties of risotto rice from which to choose, but in North America, the popular favorites are Arborio or Vialone. However, some specialty stores now carry other varieties like Carnaroli, Baldo, and Calriso. No matter which type you choose, remember this – they are all plump, medium to short grains and, more important, they all have a high proportion of amylopectin, a type of sticky starch that’s responsible for the trademark creamy texture of risotto.
What I cover below is the basic recipe for a good Risotto, without the bells-and-whistles. use this as a base and add your favorite ingredients to it – veggies like asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, peas, etc, chopped nuts, spices like saffron, basil, parsley, mint, lemon have all been incorporated at one time or other to conjure up several dozens of Risotto recipes.
1 liter vegetable stock
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely diced
1 1/4 cups risotto rice (arborio or vialone rice)
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup parmesan, grated
salt and black pepper
Heat the stock and keep it gently simmering.
Melt the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it’s soft and transparent. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute or until the grains are glossy and well coated in the butter. Add the white wine and stir until the wine is absorbed, about 30 seconds.
Add 1 cup stock, simmer and stir until it is absorbed. Continue to add the stock, 1 ladle at a time, stirring continuously until the stock is absorbed and the rice is al dente. This process may take 20-30 minutes, you have to be patient, as this is the key to making a successful authentic Risotto. You risotto is done when the mixture is creamy and a bit loose, but the rice should still have some chew to it. Don’t overcook it, like regular rice.
Fold the lemon juice and the parmesan through the risotto and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Your Risotto is ready. Serve it with any vegetable that you like.
Suggested Risotto Recipes
Peas, Saffron & Garam Masala – a unique Indian flavor combination
Butternut Squash – a seasonal favorite and an instant hit
Lemon Mint and Parsley – true to its Italian heritage
Wild Mushrooms – they add texture and taste at the same time
Corn, Tomatoes & Jalapenos – balance the sweet with a spicy kick