Many years ago during the most festive of years, I received the gift of a non-stick pan along with a slotted spoon to create what has become a staple food in our house due to its versatile nature.
To make a proper risotto, you need to take your time and spend the full 20 minutes of cooking time in front of the pan to combine all of the quality ingredients to make a rich, glossy and well textured rice dish.
First and foremost, the type of rice you use is important because you need something that is going to release plenty of starch into the finished dish to help offer the desired creaminess.
Arborio rice is valued for its short grains and high starch content which on cooking, releases the starch perfect for making a quality risotto.
As the creaminess can get a bit much, especially with the final ingredients, an acid such as a dry white wine, lemon juice or a white wine vinegar can be added to offer a little bite or freshness to the dish.
Finally, copious amounts of butter and grated Parmesan cheese are added at the end. This helps to season the dish, seal the texture of the rice as well as offering the most amazing creaminess and glossiness of any rice based dish out there.
This really is comfort food at its most flexible and best.
Basic Risotto Ingredients
- 25g Butter
- 1/2 Onion (Finely Chopped)
- 250g Arborio Rice
- 125ml Dry White Wine
- 1.25l of Chicken\Vegetable Stock (Brought to a gentle simmer in a separate pan)
- 50g Butter (Cubed)
- 50g Parmesan Cheese (Grated)
- Salt & Pepper
- Place the 25g of butter into a pan and allow to melt on a medium heat.
Once suitably melted, add the onion and allow to cook through until the onions have become softened but not browned.
- Pour in the Rice and allow to take on some of the butter as well as the heat from the pan. Lightly toasting the rice without adding the colour for around 2 minutes.
- Pour in the white wine and let it sizzle as well as reduce by half.
Now you can start ladling in your chosen stock. Once the ladle full has been absorbed, add another and keep going until the rice has plumped up and tripled in volume.
- When the rice is nice and soft with just a touch of bite or resistance on the teeth, add the 50g of butter and the 50g of Parmesan cheese then mix will. Allow everything to combine well and create a rich glossy sauce.
- Let this sit for around 5 minutes so that things cool down and settle before enjoying with a touch garlic bread.
Any other pointers?
Letting the Risotto sit for 5 minutes helps to reduce the temperature which can be blisteringly hot and do some serious damage to your cheeks and tongue.
I mean, you want to be able to taste the food right?
The finished risotto should be loose enough that it spreads in a wave formation when scooped into a bowl or on a plate, rather than creating a thick mound of rice.
You could add a touch more stock to loosen things up if all else fails
In order to test the rice, I occasionally pick out an individual grain and bite it between my front teeth to test its resistance.
You want it to have some texture without being too chalky in the middle.
Just test before each ladle full of stock so that you don’t risk having to cook the stock out and overcooking the rice.
Check back soon for some of my favourite variations on the basic risotto recipe.