Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Risotto is the ultimate Italian comfort food. It's the perfect dish after a long, hard day (as long as you're willing to take the time to make it!). With its creamy texture and rich flavor, the risotto (pronounced ree-zoe-toe) truly melts in your mouth. Some people complain that risotto doesn't taste like anything, and on its own, it's somewhat true. But add some wine (white or red will do), extra Parmesan cheese, and any assortment of meat or vegetables to your recipe, and the rice immediately takes on that ingredient's essence, creating a new and robust taste your mouth will not soon forget.

Unlike Asian rice that tends to be slightly dry, Italian rice is rich and extremely creamy. Typically risotto is made with Arborio rice which is an Italian medium-grain rice which remains "al dente" (somewhat firm) and becomes creamy when cooked. Risotto dishes originated in northern Italy, which would explain why it's such a large part of my family's cuisine. The great thing about risotto, aside from its taste, is that you can do so many different things with it. You can add wine (red or white, like stated above), seafood, sausage, chicken, prosciutto, asparagus, carrots, peas, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, the options are only limited by your palate and your imagination.

Risotto (basic recipe)

Serving Size: 4
Time: 5 minutes preparation; 40 minutes cooking

1 quart chicken/vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon olive oil
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups of rice (arborio or vialone nano)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Bring broth to simmering point. Put the oil, 4 Tablespoons of the butter, and the chopped onion into a heavy-bottomed pot and saute gently until onion is soft and translucent. Add the rice and cook for one minute, stirring constantly so the rice is coated with the oil and butter. Pour 1/2 cup of the broth over the rice and cook, stirring regularly until the liquid is nearly all absorbed.
Continue adding broth to the rice (1/2 cup at a time) until gone.
When the rice is tender, but al dente, take the pot off the heat and mix in the remaining butter and the Parmesan cheese. Add a little pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

To include wine, I usually add white wine before pouring in the first 1/2 cup of broth.
If your vegetables are raw, add them after the rice has been cooking for about 10 minutes.
If you are using roasted peppers or sundried tomatoes (both of which are amazing with risotto), add those prior to adding the last bit of butter and the Parmesan.
If including seafood or meat, make sure it's been cooked prior to adding it before the Parmesan.

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