v Risotto 101 –
- Risotto is a method for cooking rice (or other grains / starches) and there are a few simple steps, with lots of possible variations.
- Step One: Sweat the aromatics (onion, garlic, leeks, etc.) until translucent. I use about half an onion for each cup of rice.
- Step Two: Set the cooking liquid (this should have great flavor) on to simmer. You will need liquid at four times the volume of rice. (4:1 liquid to rice)
- Step Three: Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with oil, and cook the kernels to the point the Italians call ‘al occio’, which means when you break the rice in half it will look like an eye.
- Step Four: Deglaze the pot with wine (white or red). You should add enough wine to just cover the bottom of the pan. Reduce this liquid by half.
- Step Five: Start incorporating the liquid with the rice on a medium heat. Make the additions of liquid in measurements equal to the volume of rice. For example, if you started with 1 cup of rice, you would add the cooking liquid 1 cup at a time.
- Step Six: Keep stirring the rice to keep from sticking, also developing the starch. When you can drag the spoon or spatula through the rice and the path of the spoon isn’t filled in by the rice, it’s time to add more liquid.
- Step Seven: Before adding the final amount of liquid, test a little of the rice to be certain it won’t over cook from adding the total amount left. Make the last addition of liquid, and rather than constantly stirring, shake the pot and stir just the outer edge because at this point the rice is delicate and aggressive stirring will break the grains.
- Step Eight: Check for doneness, add more liquid if needed. Finish by adding a little dairy (butter, cream, cheese) correct the seasoning (salt and pepper), decide if it needs a touch of acidity (lemon juice?) and serve quickly.
Risotto is endlessly flexible. You can add vegetables or proteins to the cooking process, use different wine/spirits, use short-grain rice or a whole world of other grains, garnish, sauce, plate, and present in many many ways. Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to try some new flavors in combination.
Be bold, and be brave!