Risotto is a sexy dish, no doubt about it. It’s rich and creamy, has a luscious mouth feel, and when done properly, has a complex and nuanced flavor. It takes a bit of patience, but once you master risotto, your friends and family will worship you, for real.
2 cups arborio rice
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup white wine
1 medium shallot or ½ small red onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley
Kosher salt, to taste
Heat the stock in a small sauce pan.
In a 6 quart stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the shallot, and sautee for 2-3 minutes, or until the shallot is translucent and starting to brown around the edges.
Add the wine to deglaze the pan. Allow the wine to reduce until the pan is almost dry. Add the butter, and allow it to melt. Once the butter has melted, add the rice. Stir the rice, coating evenly with the melted butter. Cook the rice for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly toasted, being careful not to let it burn.
Add the parsley and any other aromatics or herbs you like. Stir for 1 minute, giving the aromatics a chance to release their oils.
Add 1 cup of stock, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining stock, 1 cup at a time as the stock in the risotto is absorbed. Stirring the risotto frequently is key to ensuring all the rice is cooked evenly and reduces the chance of it scorching as the liquid evaporates. Taste the risotto every so often. The rice should be creamy and firm to the bite without being crunch. If you run out of stock before the rice is done cooking, add water a cup at a time until the rice is at the desired consistency.
Once all the stock has been absorbed, remove from the heat and add the cheese, stirring just until it’s incorporated.
Serve immediately. A perfectly cooked risotto will form a creamy mound on the plate that slowly spreads just a little. It should not run across the plate, or be stiff and gluey.
NOTE: I actually use Japanese sticky rice (calrose) in place of Arborio, as it also has a high starchiness and yields excellent results.
Once you know how to make a basic risotto, start adding other flavors. For example, in the summer, when sweet corn is in season, adding a puree of sweet corn and the kernels from one cob of corn roasted on the grill results in a sweet and savory side dish to elevate any summer meal.
In the fall, oven roasting some diced butternut squash, pureeing half of the squash and adding the diced portion in at the end of cooking gives a rich and creamy risotto with an earthy feel that warms the bones on a cold night.