Easy Risotto Recipe
A first experience with risotto has left you breathless and craving more. Reading through recipes to make your own risotto, however, may leave you overwhelmed and confused. Although a good risotto takes a little time and care, there is no reason your homemade risotto should not rival that of your favorite fancy downtown bistro.
Traditionally, risotto is made with Arborio rice. This is a fat, short grained, and super starchy rice that will soak up every flavor you drop in the pot. Keep in mind that this type of rice will swell up more than a medium or long grain rice, and because risotto is such a rich and creamy meal, you won’t be able to eat as much. One half to three quarters of a cup of uncooked rice is typically enough to make dinner for two.
Firstly you’ll need to gather your ingredients:
1/2 cup (uncooked) Arborio rice
2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup white wine (anything you would enjoy drinking with a meal)
4 cups vegetable, chicken, beef, or fish stock (or broth)
1/4 cup half and half or cream
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
These ingredients are all you need to make a traditional risotto, but the possibilities for additional ingredients are endless. If you are a carnivore, you may enjoy adding shrimp, chicken, or beef. Smoked or cured meats match particularly well with risotto, such as prosciutto, ham, or bacon. You can also add vegetables, or omit meat altogether to make a vegetarian dish. Suggested vegetables include asparagus, fresh corn, spring onions, artichoke hearts, peas, or green beans. Spring vegetables are best when cooking risotto, as winter vegetables such as potatoes, yams, or squash will add too much starch to the already starchy rice.
To cook your risotto, melt the butter in a pan on medium heat (cast iron or stainless steel work the best, but any pan will do) and saute the risotto until the grains become slightly transparent. Add the garlic and saute for another minute, without allowing the garlic to turn brown. Next, add the wine and any vegetables you have, and stir until the mixture is cloudy and bubbly, and just starts to soak into the rice. Now add one cup of broth about every 3 minutes. The right time to add more broth is when the liquid reduces by about half, without allowing the rice stick to the bottom of the pan. Keep adding broth until the rice is the texture of an al dente noodle. There should be no crunch but it should still have a firm texture. Once the rice has reached this texture, add the cream, parmesan cheese, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Continue stirring the rice for another minute or two until it is creamy. If it is not thick enough for your liking, turn off the heat and allow it to set for a few minutes before serving. If adding meat to your risotto, saute or grill it separately and add it after the broth but before the cream to keep it from overcooking.
Some very tasty combinations of risotto include: shrimp with fish stock, prosciutto and asparagus; chicken with chicken stock, jalapenos and corn; and mushrooms with beef broth and caramelized onions. However you choose to make your risotto, set aside about an hour, practice cooking it for yourself a few times before serving it to guests, resist feeling intimidated, and enjoy the delicious results of your labor!