Updated 2008-07-06 18:04:33 ID=13:1

© 2008 The Romantic Table

Risotto - Rice Italian Style!

Risotto!---Ah! Mellow risotto -- -there’s nothing quite like it when it’s made properly.—It practically “digests” by itself. It’s the king of rice dishes.

Risotto!---Ah-h! Mellow risotto -- -there’s nothing quite like it when it’s made properly.—It practically “digests” by itself. It’s the king of rice dishes. –It’s a Northern Italian specialty that is made by the gradual absorption of broth method. The risotto itself can be of two types: Arborio (most common imported risotto sold here in U.S.) or Carnaroli.—Most of my recipes have been based on the Arborio.

While in Italy it is served mainly as a first course, I like to make it accompanied by a nice salad and a glass of wine as the main course. Used this way, it makes a healthy, nutritious low cost meal for the family. Though it requires more supervision and hands-on than some of my other “quickie meals,” after you once taste the creaminess and flavors of the rice while it still has a little bite, you’ll see why it’s worth the effort!

No other way of cooking rice produces the same savory results. A proper risotto should have each grain of rice slightly al dente, but the dish as a whole be creamy and smooth.

It takes about an hour to make risotto from start of prep time to sitting down and eating.
First you need to prepare all your ingredients, from chopping the onions, garlic etc., measuring the wine and herbs to be added, and to heating up the broth to be added gradually to the rice, a ladle at a time. From the start, of when you first add the broth to the rice mixture, it takes a good eighteen minutes or so to finish off. For those eighteen minutes, you need to be evenly stirring the rice/broth mixture keeping the rice kernels simmering and gradually absorbing the broth. Please see my risotto recipes for more details.

In order to make this dish to its full potential, you need a couple kitchen basics:

A long-handled wooden spoon. ---Metal spoons will damage the tender rice. Plus a wooden spoon is much more comfortable to hold.

A heavy-bottomed pot. I use a 6 quart stainless steel stockpot with copper bottom.

You’ll find that both items above will serve you well---not only with risottos. You’ll use both in making all other kinds of pasta sauces and pasta.

Basic technique
Over medium-low melt some butter and/ or olive oil, then you sauté the onion, garlic etc. Then you add the wine, and reduce down a bit to intensify the flavors.

After adding the risotto, you increase the heat and “pop” the rice. Give several strong strokes. When it looks lightly translucent, you’re ready to start adding the broth.(or wine if specified.) (Initially 2 ladles, then after a ladle at a time.) Turn the heat down to medium-low and keep stirring.(Keep it simmering.)

After it absorbs almost all of that ladle of broth, add another and stir. You keep this up about 18 minutes from the start of adding the broth (unless specified otherwise in the recipe.)
At this point, the rice should be getting creamy and be al dente (just a bit firm to the bite.)
If you’re at that point, give several really fast strong strokes, sort of whipping the rice against the sides of the pan and picking the rice up from the bottom, this will make it even more creamy.
Remove from heat and stir in grated Parmesan cheese and parsley –or whatever else is specified in recipe.

If your first attempt is an uneven texture and you’re not happy with it, don’t despair, we all started out this way!

It IS worth the effort so please try again when you have plenty of time to experiment.
Remember “practice makes perfect!” --And once you get the right technique, you’re just not cooking rice. –You’re practicing the art of making risotto!

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A tip from Sue!

Know your stove!

Not all stoves are equivalent! Your "medium" may be equivalent to another's "high." For instance, a lot of recipes use the "Medium heat" burner. But that can be too high if your sauteing garlic and don't want it to burn. It's better to err toward the lower setting.